A telecommunication company has been fined after workers narrowly avoided serious injury when a forklift truck overturned.

Swann I&M Services Limited will have to pay £54,000 in fines after the firm admitted to breaching health and safety regulations when appearing at Southend Magistrates Court earlier this month.

The company, which specialises in telecommunication inspection and maintenance, had been called into court following an investigation conducted by government watchdog the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into an incident which happened at the Springwood Industrial Estate, Braintree, on February 11, 2017.

During the hearing, the court heard how two forklift trucks were being used to level a support column by repeatedly pushing it with one truck and then “catching” it with the other.

As a result, the column rolled on its base and fell over, dragging the forklift truck it was attached to with it.

The operator escaped injury as he was operating the other forklift truck at the time. The company then went on to use two forklift trucks to try to right the overturned truck - a manoeuvre which HSE inspectors said put a number of workers at risk.

Following ITS investigation, HSE deemed the entire operation to be "high risk" and questioned why one worker had attempted to level the support column by himself.

The watchdog concluded Swann I&M Services Limited, which headquarters is in Tonbdrige, Kent, did not properly plan and supervise the lifting operation and should have ensured it was carried out in a safe manner.

When appearing in court, the firm admitted to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. Magistrates ordered the company to pay £2,442.80 in costs, on top of the £54,000 fine.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Tim Underwood said: "The use of forklift trucks was both impractical and unsafe, putting workers at unnecessary risk.

"This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply having a competent person plan a safe lifting operation and providing adequate supervision to ensure the lifting operation was carried out safely.

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards."

Swann Ltd was contacted for comment.

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