Man sacked after worker's life put at risk, tribunal hears

A LEDBURY man was sacked after he asked a work colleague to climb to the top of a fork lift truck to retrieve a pallet, risking the possibility of death or serious injury, a tribunal heard.

Terry Phillips, 64, was dismissed by Countrywide Farmers Plc after being accused of breaching health and safety regulations.

The pallet had become lodged on top of the tall fork lift truck driven by Mr Phillips and Birmingham Employment Tribunal was told he should have called for help and cordoned off the area.

Mr Phillips was seeking compensation against his former Evesham-based employers for unfair dismissal after withdrawing a compensation claim for age discrimination.

The tribunal was told that Mr Phillips had been employed for 16 years with a good work record as a warehouse operative.

The firm opposed his compensation claim and accused him of “taking matters into his own hands” when the pallet became struck.

The work colleague had tried to stop the pallet from falling but Mr Phillips admitted he should not have allowed his colleague to have put himself in danger, it was said.

Mr Phillips had not been suspended prior to his dismissal for misconduct, the tribunal was told.

After a three-day hearing, tribunal judge Mr David Perry rejected Mr Phillips’ compensation claim.

He said the firm had been under an obligation to protect its workers and that someone could have been seriously injured or even killed.

“Mr Phillips had also admitted he had done something wrong and the respondents decision to dismiss Mr Phillips was within the range of reasonable responses,” said Mr Perry.

But he criticised the respondents over the way they had handled the disciplinary situation.

He said there had been a lack of care over documents and said the firm had not considered alternative positions for Mr Phillips.

But he added that even if he had found in Mr Phillips’ favour, on a technicality, because of the firm’s handling of the situation, Mr Phillips would still not have received any award because of his 100 per cent contribution to his dismissal.

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