UK AkzoNobel Firm Fined for Worker Accident
A Birmingham, United Kingdom-based facility of AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited has been fined for “unsafe custom and practice on site” after a worker was crushed by a forklift truck.
The incident, which occurred in May 2018, involved a worker walking across a pedestrian crossing at the site when a forklift truck, being driven by another worker, collided with him. The accident crushed his leg and ankle, resulting in surgery and skin grafts.
According to the U.K. Health and Safety Executive findings, the driver did not slow down while approaching the pedestrian crossing and his vision was restricted as the forklift truck was carrying multiple intermediate bulk containers (IBCs).
Additionally, the investigation found that the company failed to provide an adequate risk assessment or a safe system of work. A lack of appropriate supervision also reportedly led to the adoption and development of an unsafe custom and practice on site.
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by the employer adequately assessing the risks and ensuring a suitable workplace transport system was implemented with correct management and supervision in place,” said HSE inspector Marie Wheeler.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited reportedly pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.
The company was fined 600,000 pounds (about $747,819) and ordered to pay costs of £3,188.60 at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on April 3.
In a statement, AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited said: "Our first thoughts are with our former colleague affected and we deeply regret the injury caused by this incident. Our former colleague was unable to return to work following the incident, but we remained in regular contact and paid him his full salary until he left the business.
"The health and safety of our people is our number one priority and we understand the severity of this matter and take it very seriously.”
Other Recent Fine
In January of this year, the United Kingdom Environment Agency announced that International Paint, owned by global coatings company AkzoNobel, was found guilty on two charges relating to the discharge of hazardous waste into a nearby estuary.
In 2015, the Environment Agency launched an investigation after the company tried to sell the premises at its Newton Ferrers paint testing facility, along with reports of possible pollution. Of the manufactured paints, the company produced antifouling coatings, which have used formulations containing toxic tributyltin (TBT).
During its investigation, the Agency reportedly found evidence of TBT, copper, arsenic and mercury in the sediment in a tank at the site, along with sediment that had flowed out into the estuary. A plug on another tank was also found to have come out, leaving it open to the estuary. However, this was eventually permanently sealed with concrete.
The charges were brought on following a nine-day hearing at the Plymouth Crown Court last October in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency. The company was fined at a sentencing hearing last month, totaling 650,000 euro (about $800,000) alongside an order to pay costs of 144,992 euro.
According to reports, a report presented to the court revealed that data collected in December 2022 showed there had been “little or no reduction in the concentrations of TBT close to the International Paint site … The reservoir of TBT debris is highly persistent and it will continue to release TBT to the sediment for many more years.”