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Safe Load Indicator Failure

A 44 year old lorry driver had to have both legs amputated following an accident at a farm he visited to collect a load of field beans. An employee at the farm had loaded some beans into the bucket of a telescopic handler to transport them to the waiting lorry. The bucket was overloaded and as it was raised the telehandlerfell forward, trapping the lorry driver underneath the bucket. He was rescued and taken to hospital by air ambulance, but had to have both legs amputated – one above the knee and the other below.


The investigation found that:

  • the telehandler’s Safe Load Indicator (SLI) which would have warned the driver that the load was too heavy to move was defective
  • the load chart in the cab was worn and extension markers on the boom 0f the telehandler were missing
  • the farm employee had not been trained in the safe use of the telehandler and had not seen or been shown the user manual or any written instructions

The farm owner was prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of both the lorry driver and his own employees, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 for the lack of adequate training. He was fined a total of £20,000 plus costs of £1,891.


This tragedy shows the importance of preventive maintenance in avoiding injuries. A proper maintenance system would have identified the defective SLI and obscured safety information. As well as making the machine safe, driver training is a critical component of a safe system. With the right information and training, the driver would have known the capacity of his machine and that the safety device didn’t work. Two simple mistakes that cost a man his legs – could it happen to you?

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