Food wholesaler fined after worker struck by forklift

Wednesday, 11 May, 2022

Food wholesaler fined after worker struck by forklift

Food services wholesaler C.C.B. Enterprises Pty Ltd has been fined after a worker was struck by a forklift and seriously injured at a Dandenong South warehouse in 2021. The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide a safe working environment, and a single charge of failing to notify WorkSafe immediately after being aware that an incident had occurred. The company was fined $35,000 without conviction.

In April 2021, the worker was walking across the warehouse floor when a forklift operated by another worker reversed around a corner and struck him, running over his foot and leg. The injured warehouse assistant was taken to hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair a compound fracture of his leg, multiple fractures of his foot and muscular damage that required a skin graft. He suffered post-operative infections and has not since returned to work.

The court heard that the company did not have a traffic management plan in place, to separate pedestrians and forklifts, and that it was reasonably practicable for the company to have implemented clearly designated exclusion zones, pedestrian walkways and safety barriers. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer said duty holders will be held accountable for failing to protect workers from the known risks associated with forklifts.

“It’s frustrating that forklift injuries are still so prevalent considering the enormous amount of guidance, information and regulation that occurs. WorkSafe will continue doing everything it can to protect workers who work with or around forklifts through inspections, investigations and prosecutions,” said Beer.

Employers using mobile plant such as forklifts should ensure that a traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate. Pedestrians must be separated from moving machinery, with an effective communication system implemented between operators, transport contractors and ground staff. Employers must also ensure that signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate; visibility issues must also be identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.

Workers operating equipment must hold the appropriate high-risk work licences. Machinery and vehicles must be inspected and maintained regularly by a suitably qualified person. Employees and health and safety representatives must be consulted about health and safety issues.

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