Briggs Equipment Ltd fined £150,000 after heavy machinery falls on driver

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Image caption,
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) investigated the incident

A County Antrim firm has been fined £150,000 for breaching health and safety law after heavy machinery fell on a worker, causing serious injuries.

Lorry driver Robert Lewis sustained fractures to his neck, spine and ribs when a pallet stacker truck fell on him, "pinning him to the ground''.

It happened at Briggs Equipment Ltd's depot in Mallusk in October 2016.

On Friday, the firm pleaded guilty to five breaches of healthy and safety legislation at Belfast Crown Court.

The court heard the lorry driver had delivered the one-tonne pallet stacker to the depot and was instructed to wait in the car park for a forklift driver.

A colleague, who had begun driving forklifts just a few months earlier, was instructed to lift the pallet stacker out of the lorry.

As he did so, the pallet stacker pivoted on the forks and fell on top of Mr Lewis who was standing nearby.

The court was also told that Mr Lewis was in a body cast for 10 to 12 weeks.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) investigated the accident and identified a number of failings which contributed to it.

HSENI inspectors found that it was normal procedure to use a crane and hoist to remove a stacker truck, not a forklift.

They also said the firm only had a part-time health and safety officer.

Briggs Equipment Ltd said it has since overhauled its health and safety procedures and appointed a full-time health and safety officer.

Delivery drivers are now directed to its logistics yard and are not allowed to be present when equipment is being unloaded.