59-year-old worker had to have his right leg amputated below the knee

A lorry trailer manufacturer has been found guilty of safety breaches after a giant fish tank fell off a forklift truck and onto a worker during a loading operation.

Following a six day trial at Manchester Crown Court, Alloy Bodies was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £56,621 costs for contravening Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The HSE prosecuted the company after investigating an accident in which a 59-year-old broke both his legs. Doctors later had to amputate his right leg below the knee.

The court was told that Alloy Bodies manufactures lorry trailers, but its bespoke services department had built a two-metre-wide fish tank for one of the firm’s directors.

When the tank, which weighed about 200 kilograms, was being loaded into the back of a van in June 2010, it slipped off the forklift and hit the worker.

Inspectors found that the tank was not secured to a pallet before being lifted and its size meant that workers struggled to load it onto the van.

“No effort was made to plan the work in advance, despite it being a highly unusual activity for employees at the factory,” said HSE inspector Alex Farnhill.

He added that if Alloy Bodies had secured the tank to a pallet and loaded it onto a larger vehicle, rather than a van, then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.

Joanne du Plessis, Partner at Shires Law comments: So often Health and Safety regulations are looked upon as imposing restrictive practices in the workplace when , in fact, they are designed to enable workplace managers to consider the safety of their workers and to ensure that accidents are minimised. Sadly, as this case illustrates, when the law is flouted serious injuries can and do ensue.