Karters dodge death in failed lifting operation

A construction company has been fined after heavy metal sheets crashed through a karting track roof, narrowly missing members of the public. The Raceway in Oldbury, where the incident occurred

The incident happened at The Raceway on the Park Lane Trading Estate, Oldbury, on 16th April 2014, where Barnsley-based KSMT Ltd had been employed to overclad the roof.

Sandwell Magistrates’ Court heard this week that a subcontractor had lifted new metal roof sheets, weighing 750kg, on to the roof using the forks of a telehandler.

However, one of the forks fell off. The fork and the sheets crashed through the existing corrugated roof and through a raised section of the kart track inside, coming to rest on the lower section of track.

Ten karters were racing round the circuit at the time. Only by chance, none were hit.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the lifting operation was poorly planned. KSMT, as the main contractor for the work, failed to assess the risks or produce a method statement or lifting plan. Metal was loaded directly on to metal, increasing the risk of slipping, and the forks of the telehandler were not wide enough to take the load.

KSMT Ltd, of Fall Bank Industrial Estate, Dodworth, Barnsley, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a further £500 in costs with a £500 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

HSE inspector Gareth Langston said after the hearing: “This incident was entirely preventable. It could have been avoided in any number of ways; by securing the load to the forks, using a pallet to reduce the slip of metal on metal, using wider forks, a pallet, crane or a scaffold, or ensuring the forks were locked on.

“No thought was given to any of these methods, nor of lifting the materials when the track was unoccupied. There were 10 racers on the track at the time who were within seconds of being struck – with potentially devastating consequences.

“This case shows the importance of properly planning lifting operations and highlights the duty of the principal contractor on a site to manage their subcontractors.”