A worker could have been killed when a 400kg plastic bale struck him as it toppled from a forklift truck, a court has heard.
The metre-high cube of recycled plastic was being moved at PrestonPlastics Ltd’s plant on Lancaster Road, Out Rawcliffe, when the incident happened in August, 2011.
The firm, of Pittman Way, Fulwood, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,533 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found the firm had failed to plan the liftingoperations properly so the work could be carried out safely.
Preston Magistrates’ Court heard a 26-year-old local man was injured when the forklift driver lifted two bales from a stack in the warehouse by clamping hold of the bottom bale, with the other resting on top.
As he moved the bales, the top one toppled from the forklift and struck the worker, who was sweeping up bits of plastic.
He was thrown to the floor as it hit his hands and head, and suffered a fracture to his spine, which required a back brace while it healed.
HSE Inspector Rohan Lye said: “The employee at Preston Plastics was badly injured when he was struck by the bale, but his injuries could easily have been fatal.
“The company has since changed its working practices, so that the forklift truck is now only used to lift one bale at a time.
“If that procedure had been in place at the time, then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.”