Forklift injury leads to $100K fine for logistics company

Friday, 08 March, 2019

Forklift injury leads to $100K fine for logistics company

A $100,000 fine has been issued to a logistics company after a worker was injured by a forklift.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Pty Ltd was convicted and fined at Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on 26 February after pleading guilty to a single charge under Section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failure to provide a safe system of work by not having a traffic management system in place.

The company was also ordered to pay WorkSafe Victoria's costs of $6555.

The incident occurred at a factory operated by Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in Laverton North where containers of food and other consumables are received for distribution to supermarket chains.

The court heard that on 2 August 2016 an electric forklift operated by one worker was reversing when it struck a second worker who was walking behind.

That worker, who was wearing a high-visibility vest at the time, was pushed to the ground under the forklift, resulting in a fractured leg.

Both workers were employees of a labour hire company.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed there was no traffic management system in place at the time of the incident and no physical barriers or other means of separating mobile machinery from pedestrians.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has since put in place pedestrian walkways defined by fixed barriers at the factory.

The labour hire company was separately charged for failing to conduct a risk assessment and failing to liaise with Hellmann Worldwide Logistics regarding risks arising from the work to be performed. That matter was resolved by way of an enforceable undertaking on 11 July 2018.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said when working with forklifts a traffic management plan that includes the separation of forklifts and people was essential.

"The extreme risk to workers posed by moving machinery such as forklifts cannot be ignored and control measures must always be put in place," Nielsen said.

"In this case having the correct safety measures in place would have prevented a worker receiving debilitating injuries.

"Like all workers, labour hire staff have every right to return home safely at the end of the day, so employers must ensure risks are properly assessed to provide them with a safe working environment."

Employers using mobile machinery such as forklifts should ensure:

  • all workers receive appropriate induction and training on the work they are to be involved in, and that a register of training and induction is maintained on file;
  • a traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate;
  • pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place;
  • signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate;
  • visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor;
  • machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained, by a suitably qualified person.

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