Wool processor convicted over truckie injury
A wool processing business based in Laverton, Melbourne, was recently convicted and fined $75,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over an incident in 2013 where a truck driver, who was not an employee, suffered significant spinal injuries.
Victoria Wool Processors (Aust.) Pty Ltd was convicted on one charge of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to provide a safe working environment to people other than employees.
The business was also ordered to pay costs of $17,000.
WorkSafe Victoria reported that the injured worker drove his truck and two trailers to the unloading area at the processor to deliver wool bales, where he proceeded to commence winding up restraining straps on the bales.
At this time, he was reportedly struck by a falling wool bale, weighing almost 140 kg, which knocked him to the ground.
The bale had been dislodged by a forklift driver while unloading bales on the other side of the truck.
The man suffered knee damage as well as three fractured vertebrae, which consequently required a fusion and two steel rods inserted along the spine.
The court heard the company failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training in regard to safe operating procedures for the unloading of trucks and failed to supervise compliance with such procedures.
The court also heard that the workplace failed to provide a designated safe area for truck drivers to wait during unloading and loading.
“This case is a prime example of a business that has failed to understand and control the risks inherent with their operations and, as a result, a person has suffered life-changing injuries,” said Marnie Williams, WorkSafe executive director of health and safety.
“There were clear risks to health and safety at this workplace where forklifts and truck drivers were present in the same busy unloading area.
“This, coupled with a total absence of information, instruction and training in regard to safe operating procedures, was simply unacceptable.”
Williams added that employers have a responsibility to ensure appropriate risk assessment is carried out and that all workers who come into contact with their operations are appropriately inducted and trained.
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