At around 1:45 p.m., a forklift operator was lifting a pallet in a logistics platform. The pallet was made up of 36 boxes containing 5-litre containers of 2-5% sodium hydroxide and was located on the 2nd tier of a storage cell dedicated to flammable and corrosive products, next to a second pallet composed of four 250-litre drums of 15-20% sodium hydroxide. Due to an error of assessment when taking the first pallet, the second pallet was positioned across its position. The wooden decking on this level is broke, ripping away the stringer. A sprinkler antenna was broken in the process. The 3 pallets in the storage cells, containing various packages of sodium hydroxide, fell to the ground. The forklift operator was splashed with sodium hydroxide and received burns to his face, neck, eyes and scalp. As he was climbing down from the forklift, he slipped and injured his knee as the floor had become slippery due to the chemical products. He received care from the site’s First Aid Officer and then was cared for by the external rescue services. The maintenance department shut off the sprinkler system and moved the forklift out of the way. The area was cleaned up.
The operator’s analysis shows that the 2nd pallet had been incorrectly positioned on the storage rack. In addition, the forklift truck used was intended for another workshop. The Plexiglas protection of the cabin was not in place.
In consequence, the operator took several corrective measures:
- highlighting of the elements to be checked on the forklift at a shift change;
- reinforcement of the process to clean the protective Plexiglas (organisation, checking);
- reinforcement of checks to ensure that pallets are correctly positioned in the storage racks;
- change of the type of safety glasses used;
- testing of the fork cameras.