Factory worker almost dies as a result of unsafe manual handling methods.

A Birmingham company have been fined upwards of £150,000 along with £27,000 in costs, after an almost two-tonne cable drum reel nearly crushed warehouse worker Jeffrey Smith 56, to death.

Although the drum cable reel narrowly missed Smith’s head, he was forced to spend 8 days in hospital, five of which were in intensive care, after he suffered from a collapsed lung, as well as broken and fractured ribs.

The victim (who had been an employee for a number of years) had been cutting cables from a large reel and transferring them to a smaller one. The smaller drum was put onto weighing scales, which then had to be transferred on to a ramp. The danger came when Smith couldn’t fit behind the reel to push it, so instead he pulled the reel- his right foot became lodged, and as a result, he fell backwards.

After he lost his balance, the drum carried on rolling down the ramp. Following the impact, Smith sustained a haematoma to his left side, and escaped death simply due to the fact that the flanges of the drum passed over him like the ‘wheels of a car’. Hence, just missing his head.

Adam Farrer (prosecuting) stated that these clearly hazardous manual handling methods had been in place for seven years, prior to what he described as an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

Roderick Henderson, Judge of the case, stated that the CCTV footage of the accident was ‘frightening to watch’, and said that Smith had a ‘substantial weight to manipulate’ as part of his work.


On average 120,000 workers suffered injuries as a result of manual handling in 2017. With the correct equipment these incidents are all but preventable- if you would like to make your workplace a safer, and more efficient environment, consider S-craft manual handling equipment.