Birmingham granddad issues safety warning after forklift injury left him unable to work

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Simon was employed as a senior operator at the time and was on a pedestrian crossing at the Holden Works site in Bordesley Green when he was injured

A Birmingham dad, who was seriously injured when his leg was crushed by a forklift truck, has issued a safety warning and revealed the life-changing impact of his injuries.

Simon Upton, 53, from Castle Vale, Birmingham suffered serious left leg and ankle injuries, including multiple fractures, when he was hit by the vehicle at AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Ltd’s site in Birmingham.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Simon was employed as a senior operator at the time and was on a pedestrian crossing at the Holden Works site in Bordesley Green Road on May 8, 2018, when the forklift truck, being driven by another worker, collided with him - crushing his leg and ankle. The driver did not slow down and their vision was restricted as the forklift was carrying multiple containers.

After the accident, Simon spent more than six weeks in hospital undergoing surgery to insert pins and plates into his leg, as well as skin grafts and multiple plastic surgical procedures. Since his initial discharge from hospital he has undergone several further operations, and may face more yet.

The dad-of-four and granddad-of-three was unable to attend the wedding of his sister, Stacey, in Cyprus, where he was due to give her away. Since the incident he’s undergone a total of five more major operations, the latest in July 2022 which involved a full ankle fusion. However, Simon, who is married to Joanne, aged 50, continues to suffer pain and mobility issues which severely impact his day-to-day life.

AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited, of Slough, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was also ordered to pay costs of £3,188 during a Health and Safety Executive prosecution at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Simon Upton’s injurySimon Upton’s injury
Simon Upton’s injury | Simon Upton

What happened to the firm?

The firm, AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Ltd, was fined £600,000 in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive. It admitted breaches in health and safety laws.

In a separate civil case, the company has admitted liability for Simon’s injuries. Its representatives have worked collaboratively with legal firm Irwin Mitchell and provided interim payments to help fund Simon’s ongoing rehabilitation and treatment.

Alice Hall, the specialist workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Simon, said: “The last few years and coming to terms with the devastating injuries Simon suffered have been incredibly difficult for him and his family.

“He continues to live with the effect of what happened, not only physically but also emotionally. While he has made progress in his recovery through access to rehabilitation, Simon still faces many challenges and an uncertain future. We acknowledge the collaborative approach to the civil case by his employer’s insurance company and their solicitors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’re determined to support Simon to make the best recovery possible so he can regain more of his independence and, importantly, his quality of life. In the meantime, we hope what happened acts as a warning as to why businesses need to ensure the highest health and safety standards are upheld at all times.”

Birmingham dad’s injuryBirmingham dad’s injury
Birmingham dad’s injury | Simon UPton

How is Simon now?

Nearly five years on the 53-year-old is still under the care of surgeons and may face further operations. He continues to suffer with issues connected to his injuries, including severe pain and mobility issues, which mean he may still face the possibility of having to undergo an amputation.

Simon has been unable to return to work. He has now spoken for the first time of the effect his injuries have had on his family and urged businesses to ensure health and safety standards are upheld.

Simon said: “I remember walking across the designated pedestrian crossing towards some containers and then suddenly I was hit by the forklift truck. I remained trapped under the truck for around five minutes before I was freed. I’ve never felt pain like it and knew that it was serious.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Coming to terms with my injury and the impact it’s had not only on me but my loved ones has been very difficult. It wasn’t a case of leaving hospital to rest and recover; what happened still affects me now.

“I enjoyed my job and could see me staying there for a number of years. However, I’ve not been able to return to work since. I used to play golf several times a week, go out with friends and enjoyed holidays.

“I can’t thank the doctors for everything they’ve done to help me but I still live in pain daily and struggle with my mobility. My walking is very slow. My left leg feels as though I’m trying to walk through sand and I feel that my limp and overall gait is worse than ever.

“Even nearly five years on, it’s still difficult to accept and come to terms with what’s happened. I try to remain optimistic and focused on my recovery, but I still face so much uncertainty as to how much of my old life I’ll get back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I just hope that by speaking out employers realise the impact safety breaches can have on people’s lives and that people in similar position to me don’t have to feel they have to go through things alone. Help and support is available.”

What did the firm say?

A spokesperson for AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited said: “AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited last week entered a guilty plea in relation to a workplace incident, which occurred at our Birmingham site, on May 8, 2018.

“Our first thoughts are with our former colleague affected and we deeply regret the injury caused by this incident. Our former colleague was unable to return to work following the incident, but we remained in regular contact and paid him his full salary until he left the business.

“The health and safety of our people is our number one priority and we understand the severity of this matter and take it very seriously.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We accept the court’s findings and the fine imposed and have cooperated fully with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Our actions since the incident demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the safety of our employees, and we will continue to work tirelessly to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.