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A falling pallet incident at a fuel distribution company in Northern Ireland has resulted in the death of one of its employees, with the prosecution ruling that a health and safety breach had occured.

The director of Hayes Fuels, Allister Hayes, entered a guilty plea at Belfast Crown Court, along with Stanley Gibson, which had produced a risk assessment of the company.

Mark McCarroll, 49, was employed as a forklift truck driver at the company, located at Harbour estate in Belfast. On 27th March 2013, a lorry being driven by Brian Wilshaw was being loaded with briquettes and mixed coals. So that full pallets of coal could be loaded onto the lorry, Wilshaw flagged down McCarroll, who was driving the forklift truck.

The accident occurred in Shed Two, where the two employees were counting how many briquettes were on a slack pallet that had already been raised from the ground. As Wilshaw gathered up loose briquettes, McCarroll pulled out a bale and set it down before he was hit by two falling pallets. Although Wilshaw tried to warn him, it was too late. McCarroll died two days later of injuries to his pelvis and chest. Although the Stanley Gibson Partnership had conducted risk assessments for the company, the prosecution lawyer stated that they were insufficient and inadequate.

As there was so much information, the judge adjourned the sentencing for one month, adding to the court that it was a tragic case. All employers have a duty to ensure the safety of their workforce, which includes working at height and the use of PPE where necessary.

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