Company enters $480K enforceable undertaking after forklift injury

Tuesday, 09 April, 2024

Company enters $480K enforceable undertaking after forklift injury

Building material supplier Bell Plaster Supplies Pty Ltd has entered into an enforceable undertaking worth more than $480,000 to improve health and safety outcomes after an incident at a Pascoe Vale warehouse. The company was charged with failing to reduce the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians; WorkSafe Victoria may reinstate the charge if the enforceable undertaking is contravened or withdrawn.

The incident occurred in April 2022, when a worker was struck by a reversing forklift, resulting in an open wound fracture on his right foot that required multiple surgeries. WorkSafe alleged that it was reasonably practicable for the company to ensure a fully implemented traffic management plan was in place; that there were designated forklift and pedestrian zones and a temporary exclusion zone around operating forklifts; that spotters were used as necessary; and that all forklifts were subject to daily inspections and ongoing maintenance.

The estimated $480,509 undertaking requires the company to employ an occupational health and safety manager on an ongoing full-time basis and to engage a third party for a period of 36 months to provide OHS audits, review and develop policies and procedures, and provide HR support. Under the enforceable undertaking, the company must also donate $10,000 to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety and enter into a sponsorship agreement with the Bachar Houli Foundation to organise pre-workforce seminars that prepare youth on safe work practices.

The company must also commence a safety campaign involving the distribution of brochures to all premises, both businesses and residential, within a five-kilometre radius of the workplace. Sensors must also be installed that will sound an alarm when a pedestrian is within eight metres of the read of any forklift in the workplace.

WorkSafe Victoria advises employers using mobile plant such as forklifts to ensure a traffic management plan has been implemented for pedestrians and mobile powered plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate. Pedestrians must also be separated from moving machinery, with an effective communication system implemented between operators, transport contractors and ground staff. Employers must also ensure that workers operating equipment have the appropriate high-risk work licences and that all machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person. Signage must also be in place, with barriers erected where appropriate.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers must do everything they can to ensure mobile plant such as forklifts are operating safely, as even incidents involving slow-moving forklifts can have serious consequences. “Forklifts are among the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths in Victorian workplaces,” Beer said.

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