Company fined $140K after truck driver crushed by steel beams

Monday, 08 April, 2024

Company fined $140K after truck driver crushed by steel beams

Warehouse, storage and transport company Arrow Worldwide Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $140,000 after a truck driver was struck on the head and had both legs crushed by a 1.5-tonne pack of steel beams. The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $6936.

The incident occurred at the company’s West Melbourne warehouse in May 2021, when a pack of 12-metre-long steel beams fell from a flat top semitrailer after being loaded by a forklift, striking the truck’s driver who was standing in the fall shadow. The beams hit the driver’s head, causing a traumatic brain injury, and crushed both of his legs, which were later amputated.

An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria found that it was reasonably practicable for the company to provide and maintain a system of work that separated pedestrians from moving machinery, required transport drivers to remain in a marked safety zone and required them to be inducted into the workplace before work began. Instructions regarding the system of work should also have been provided to transport drivers.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers have a duty to ensure their actions do not put the health and safety of others in their workplace at risk.

“We know that pedestrians and mobile plant don’t mix and safety or exclusion zones along with workplace inductions for anyone visiting the site are a crucial part of ensuring safety during loading and unloading work. Tragically, in this case a worker has suffered horrific, life-changing injuries that could and should have been prevented,” Beer said.

WorkSafe advises employers and contractors who are loading and unloading trucks to ensure that safe systems of work are in place throughout the delivery and collection process. Employers and contractors should also ensure that the designated loading and unloading area has been assessed and prepared for the activity, with a traffic management plain in place for pedestrians and mobile plant. Exclusion zones must also be established, where possible, around the transport vehicle during the loading and unloading process to prevent persons or vehicles from entering the area.

Signage and barriers must also be used for traffic management and exclusion zones. Employers and contractors are also advised to implement an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff. It is also important to ensure that the transport vehicle is suitable, including traction of the deck material, dimensions and load rating of the deck and ramps, tie down and lashing points, loading or unloading methods, and winching equipment onto and off tilt-trays (if relevant). All machinery and vehicles must be regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.

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