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Firm fined pounds 20,000 over forklift death.

A FIRM was yesterday fined pounds 20,000 after a driver was crushed to death between a forklift truck and his lorry.

Pirelli Cables, of Carr Lane, Prescot, was prosecuted after 45year-old John Melia was hit by a reversing seven tonne forklift truck.

Mr Melia's wife Sandra, 42, of Crosfield Road Prescot, last night welcomed the sentence and paid tribute to her ``warm and friendly'' husband.

Pirelli Cables pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act and failing to carry out adequate risk assessments.

Huyton Magistrates' Court heard how Mr Melia, an employee of subcontractor Maxi Haulage Ltd, was helping to load his lorry when a forklift truck carrying a cylindrical load of copper wire hit him at around 15mph.

Paramedics were called to the accident on the morning of March 27 2001 but Mr Melia died at the scene.

Nicholas Wilson, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said the forklift was reversing 250 yards with no flashing light and had a large blind spot on its right side.

He said Pirelli Cables had failed to carry out a risk assessment of the driving route and the driver, Howard Griffiths, was not to be blamed.

In an inspection after the accident he found the manoeuvre was carried out around five times a day and the company had no policy of insisting workers wear high visibility jackets.

He said: ``It was not the fault of the driver, Mr Griffiths. It was corporate failure by the company to not segregate areas of vehicle movement from pedestrians.

``Nor was it the fault of Mr Melia, who was carrying out his duties in an area where he was exposed to danger.''

Tim Holloway, defending, said Pirelli Cables had spent pounds 80,000 on safety improvements and forklift trucks since the accident.

He said Pirelli Cables accepted they had failed to make an adequate risk assessment but added Mr Melia had acknowledged the presence of the forklift truck shortly before the accident.

He said: ``They had in fact acknowledged each other's presence before the accident occurred and Mr Griffiths made a conscious decision to slow down and had sounded his horn'' Magistrates fined Pirelli Cables pounds 20,000 and instructed them to pay pounds 3,891 costs.

Mr Melia had three children aged 23, 16 and 12 and had worked for Maxi Haulage for around 15 years.

After the hearing Sandra Melia said: ``He was a really jolly man who wouldn't say a bad word about anyone.''

Alf Dutton, Mr Melia's brother-inlaw, was working at the Prescot factory on the day of the accident.

He said: ``I was absolutely devastated and so was everyone else who worked there.

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JOHN MELIA: Hit by a truck
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 7, 2002
Words:457
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