Blog Post #150 – Wrong Decision Made by the Forklift Driver

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

A deadly accident at a residential housing project has landed Elderston Manor Estates Inc. a $180,000 penalty.

On August 3, 2006, a delivery truck driver for Mansteel Inc. was bringing a load of steel bearing plates and shims to the site in Vaughan, Ontario, north of Toronto. The 100 plates, each weighing about 17 pounds, were in a steel barrel on the flatbed truck, the MOL notes.

A worker on site was instructed by an Elderston Manor construction supervisor to unload the barrel. Using a forklift, the worker tried to drive its forks under the barrel while the truck driver helped to manoeuvre the barrel onto the forks. The barrel, which had not been secured, then fell over and on top of the truck driver.

During the operation, reports Crown counsel Grainne McGrath, the truck driver moved from the back of the vehicle and stood there. When the barrel toppled, it hit the worker in the abdomen area, fatally injuring him, McGrath says.

An MOL investigation determined the method used to unload the barrel was hazardous and created an unstable load on the forklift. A barrel, for example, is not equipped with lifting or pallet slots that would allow it to be safely moved using a forklift, the ministry notes.

As site constructor, Elderston Manor Estates had responsibility for the safety of all workers on site. The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the steel bearing plates were moved in a manner that did not endanger a worker.

About eight to 10 additional charges related to the safe movement of material were withdrawn, says McGrath. Those charges were against Elderston Manor Estates, Mansteel Inc. and an individual.

My opinion

Section 43, of the OHSA, describes the procedures involving a work refusal. Here we had a forklift operator, one that I hope had a ROT,that should have refused the request by the site supervisor to unload the barrel based on the fact the barrel was not strapped to a pallet, as required. There are a few barrel attachments out there meant for such a function and it could have been used. It would have been senseless for a construction site to have forklift attachments available because of their possible need. Mansteel should have palleted and banded the barrel for safe off-loading. Therefore, the operator was in a position to know that this may be an unsafe operation and refuse the request by the site supervisor. The barrel should have been sent back for proper packing, placed on a pallet and banded to the pallet. This would have saved the operator any headaches and it would have saved the life of the Mansteel driver.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Forklift Certification’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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