Smallgoods manufacturer fined $30K after worker fall
R N Brand Pty Ltd, trading as Alpine Smallgoods, has been fined $30,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries in a fall at a Carrum Downs workplace in 2019. The smallgoods manufacturer was fined without conviction after pleading guilty to one charge of failing, so far as reasonably practicable, to provide or maintain a safe system of work. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $3164.
On 13 June 2019, a worker was standing on a stack of pallets about 1.5 metres high to help unload boxes from a delivery truck when he fell backwards. The worker suffered a fractured skull, fractured spine and broken ribs, and spent more than a month in hospital. A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that the company could have eliminated or reduced any risks to workers during the unloading or trucks by using a platform with perimeter guarding.
To prevent falls from height, employers can also eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. Using a passive fall prevention device, such as a scaffold, perimeter screen, guardrail, safety mesh or elevating work platform, can also reduce the risk of falls from height. Employers should also use a positioning system, such as a travel restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area. A fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety net, can help limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall. Use of a fixed or portable ladder, or the implementation of administrative controls, is also recommended.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said the idea of standing on stacked pallets to unload boxes was obviously flawed, adding that these incidents can happen at all kinds of workplaces while undertaking a variety of tasks, and it is up to employers to have systems in place to prevent them.
“Falls from height remain one of the biggest killers of workers in Victoria and you don’t have to fall a great distance to suffer serious injuries, or worse,” Keen said.
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