Company fined £80,000 after death of worker hit by forklift truck

Karen Allan, 61, was hit by the reversing vehicle at QA Fish in Scalloway, Shetland, in January 2018 and later died.

26 May 2022

A fish processing company has been fined £80,000 over health and safety failings following the death of an employee who was struck by a forklift truck.

Karen Allan, 61, was run over by a reversing forklift truck after placing a bag of rubbish into a bin on the premises of QA Fish in Scalloway, Shetland, on January 31, 2018.

Mrs Allan, a quality controller and housekeeper with the company, had heard the reversing alarm and shouted but was unable to get out of the path of the vehicle, which struck her leg and dragged her under.

She was seriously injured and died on February 22, 2018.

QA Fish admitted health and safety breaches between January 6, 2014 and January 31, 2018 during a hearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday and was fined £80,000, the Crown Office said.

Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “The tragic death of Karen Allan could have been avoided had QA Fish Ltd put in place a health and safety management system.

QA Fish premises
The incident occurred at QA Fish in Scalloway, Shetland, in January 2018 (Crown Office/PA)

“There was no corporate responsibility for health and safety and a failure to consider over a reasonable period, which put their employees at unacceptable risk.

“This prosecution should remind other employers that failing to keep their employees safe can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.

“Our thoughts are with Mrs Allan’s family, who must live with the consequences of the failings of QA Fish Ltd.”

A joint investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive found the company had failed to implement a health and safety management system.

There was no risk assessment in place for pedestrians using the same area the forklift was operating in.

There were no visible barriers to separate these areas and no requirement for employees to wear high visibility clothing when working in the exterior area of the premises.

Systems and methods of work were established informally by individual employees without formal direction or guidance from senior management.

Formal, documented systems of work for pedestrian and forklift truck operations did not exist and employees were instead left to “get on with it” and expected to use their common sense.

It was only after the incident that the company put in place a health and safety management system.

The company did not wish to make any comment following the court case.

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