A BLACKBURN company has been ordered to pay over £60,000 for breaching health and safety laws after a worker died in a forklift truck accident.

Maciej Koldys, 36, was killed in an accident at the MK Illuminations (UK) site on Witton Business Park, Preston Old Road when the forklift truck he was driving struck an overhead steel beam.

This caused the truck to overturn, with Mr Koldys receiving fatal injuries while trapped underneath the roll cage on June 14, 2019.

Following a subsequent investigation, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: "The company’s system of work was not safe.

"With the forklift trucks operating within such tight margins, the company simply relied on the assumption it’s employees would always remember to lower the forks to their lowest position whilst travelling underneath the overhead beams.

"MK Illumination (UK) Ltd not only failed to physically mark the overhead beams in a conspicuous way to provide the forklift truck operators with a prominent warning of the limited headroom, but the company also failed to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the traffic routes.

"When this was done after the incident, the revised traffic routes avoided the low overhead beams altogether."

Following the HSE's investigation, MK Illuminations pleaded guilty at a hearing held before Preston Magistrates Court and was ordered to pay a total of £61,410.30, comprised of a fine of £53,360 along with costs of £7,880.30.

Blackburn with Darwen Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Riley said: "This illustrates the importance of health and safety rules.

"They may sometimes appear to be quite onerous but cases like this show that they are there for a reason."

Blackburn and District Trades Union Council President Vikki Dugdale said: "It could have been easily avoided with a risk assessment of those traffic routes and even though the government doesn't place a high priority on this like this, that doesn't mean that companies can't."

Responding to the ruling, the firm says it has taken steps to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.

MK Illumination managing director Markus Mark said: "We were all deeply shocked by this tragic accident and offer our sincere condolences to the family.

"We take health and safety extremely seriously and fully supported the police and HSE investigation, as the court noted we admitted responsibility at the earliest opportunity.

"We took immediate steps to improve our working practices and updated our safety policies, which include no longer using this route for any vehicles."