Man's neck broken after being hit by 800kg load which fell off forklift

King's Lynn magistrates court/crown court Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn Magistrates Court. - Credit: Chris Bishop

A lorry driver was left needing permanent 24-hour care after he was crushed by 800kg of pet bedding which fell off a forklift truck.

The man had delivered the palleted load of pet bedding to Dickies Pet Centre Ltd in Oldmedow Road, King's Lynn, on June 25, 2018.

The stock was being unloaded by the firm's managing director Richard Ellwood, who was using a forklift truck to get the load off the lorry.

Its lifting forks were too close together so they could not properly support the load, and when being manoeuvred the 800kg load fell from the pallet and onto the lorry driver.

He was left with life-changing fractures to his neck vertebrae which paralysed him and left him in need of permanent round-the-clock care.

The Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk brought charges against Dickies Pet Centre and Mr Ellwood under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to which they pleaded guilty.

A statement from the council states: "Dickies Pet Centre did not have a safe system of work for the unloading of delivery vehicles, Mr Ellwood had not been trained in the operation of fork-lift trucks since 2005, and Dickies Pet Centre's forklift truck had long been operated without access to any copy of the manufacturer's manual."

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After the case was heard at Lynn Magistrates' Court on Thursday, January 21, district judge Woollard adjourned the case for sentencing to occur in due course, once further written submissions have been made.

Vicki Hopps, the council's environmental health manager, said: "This incident shows the potentially devastating consequences for anyone caught up in the mishandling of delivered goods, and, as these proceedings show, failing to reach the minimum safety standards set by law may lead to serious consequences for the businesses responsible and for those individuals running those businesses."

Stuart Dark, the council's cabinet member for environmental services and public protection, added: "There is no success in the aftermath of a serious accident like this and its life-changing impact on the individual and their family. What we hope is that others will learn from this incident and take their responsibilities around health and safety seriously."

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