Howdens Joinery trucks

Kitchen manufacturer and supplier Howdens Joinery has been fined £1.2m after a visiting HGV driver was crushed whilst delivering into one of its sites in 2014.

Agency driver Richard Bowen was crushed to death by a forklift truck that overturned whilst lifting kitchen worktops from a trailer at the firm’s Workington, Cumbria, site on 10 November 2014.

An investigation by the HSE found that that the forklift truck had been overloaded. Visiting HGV drivers were also not kept at a safe distance from loading and unloading operations, which put them at risk.

HSE inspector Steven Boyd said: “Standing too close to where loading or unloading work is being carried out can put people in harm’s way so people, such as delivery drivers, should be in a position of safety when forklift trucks are operating.

“This tragic incident could have been avoided if Howdens Joinery had implemented a safe procedure to ensure that pedestrians were kept at a safe distance during loading and unloading work.

The own-account operator, which holds two O-licences authorising up to 165 vehicles and 688 trailers, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Carlisle Crown Court on 22 November.

As well as the £1.2m fine, Howdens Joinery will have to pay £33,902 in costs.