A haulage company was fined £100,000 yesterday after a driver was killed when his forklift truck fell on him.
Father-of-two Moray Inglis, aged 37, from Loughborough, tried to jump clear as the truck tipped over when a lorry pulled away during loading.
He became trapped under the vehicle and died after the accident at Gotham, Nottinghamshire, on January 10,
2003. Pall-Ex (UK) Ltd, now based at Ellistown, Leicestershire, admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing.
A judge at Nottingham Crown Court fined the company £100,000 and ordered it to pay £8,630 legal costs.
James Puzey, prosecuting, said that despite warnings from the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE) about speeding forklifts and unsafe loading procedures, the company had no system to ensure that lorries and pedestrians were kept apart, and drivers were under pressure to unload the waiting lorries quickly.
He read out statements from former workers alleging forklifts had collided and run over workers' toes. A specialist HSE inspector called in following the fatal accident said it had been " readily foreseeable".
"Time was of the essence on this site," he said. "Drivers would be fined if they weren't on time. They were expected to keep up in the queue. Time was money - the queue was to be kept moving."
He stressed that Pall-Ex was not cutting corners to save money, but trying to maximise efficiency. When the accident happened, the company had a new system of unloading in place.
In mitigation, the court heard that the company had made safety improvements, kept its vehicles well maintained, trained and assessed its workers regularly, and had now moved to a new site which had been designed in consultation with the HSE.
Sentencing, Judge Dudley Bennett said: "This was an accident waiting to happen and the system of work imposed this pressure on the drivers. Sooner or later what did happen was going to happen.
"This company operated an unsafe system of work which had the unintended effect of putting pressure on drivers to work faster than it was safe to."
The judge added that he was confident the company's new site had proper safety procedures.
After the court hearing, HSE inspector Frances Bailey said: "No fine will compensate for the tragic loss of a life, but the high penalty reflects the seriousness of the offence."
Mr Inglis's widow, Tracy, aged 37, said: "On behalf of my children and myself, I would like to say that I am pleased with the outcome of the case and the findings of the court.
"I cannot discuss in detail the advice I am receiving, but I will now be discussing with my solicitors the steps I need to take in pursuing the claim to compensate my family for our tragic loss. I hope that any lessons to be learnt from the issues that have been heard in court will be followed by those concerned."