Chemicals firm in Silvertown fined £20,000 after laboratory worker lost leg

Oluwafemi Akinteyo was sentenced to 14 years in prison

Oluwafemi Akinteyo was sentenced to 14 years in prison - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A chemicals company has been fined £20,000 after a worker was run over by a forklift truck and had to have part of his leg amputated.

The 59-year-old laboratory technician was hit as he carried out maintenance on a drain cover at Nuplex Resins Ltd in North Woolwich Road, Silvertown, on August 3, 2011.

The company was also ordered to pay £3,139 in costs after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for serious safety failings.

The employee from Essex, who does not wish to be named, had worked for the company more than 40 years. He suffered major crush injuries to his right leg and had to undergo an above-the-knee amputation.

He also sustained ligament damage to his left leg, a dislocated left elbow and was in hospital for around four weeks. He has been unable to return to work at Nuplex since.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard (on March 27) that the forklift truck driver, who was carrying a one-tonne palletised load, was unable to see the injured worker as he was sealing a drain cover on a roadway at the site. There were no barriers or tape indicating the area had to be avoided, although there were fixed signs in place banning pedestrians.

The truck hit him as it travelled on a main forklift route between the production and warehouse sites – a route that was used up to 100 times per day by each operative, the court heard.

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During its investigations HSE found that the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for carrying out maintenance activity in the road.

HSE Inspector Stephen Farthing said: “The serious injuries the worker sustained could have been avoided. It would have been relatively easy for Nuplex Resins to close the road down for the 15-minute period that was needed to seal the drain cover.”

Nuplex admitted responsibility for this accident.

Their site manager Peter Dyer said: “To prevent a recurrence, we took a variety of steps immediately following the accident and we continue to monitor the effectiveness of these improvements.

“Nuplex deeply regrets this accident. The safety of our people, and the communities and environments in which we operate, is a priority across the Nuplex Group.”