Vic company fined after forklift crushes worker's leg

Tuesday, 10 October, 2023

Vic company fined after forklift crushes worker's leg

Shipping, transport and logistics company Searoad Logistics Pty Ltd has been fined $40,000 after a worker on a pedestrian walkway was struck by a forklift in its Port Melbourne warehouse. The company was fined without conviction, and ordered to pay an additional $9870 in costs, after pleading guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing, so far as reasonably practicable, to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

The incident occurred in May 2020, seconds after a forklift drove out through an open roller door, while a truck driver walked into the warehouse via the same door. As he continued along the marked hallway, the forklift reversed back into the warehouse, hitting him and crushing his leg. An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria found that it was reasonably practicable for the company to reduce the risk to health and safety by having a traffic management plan in place, and ensuring truck drivers were inducted into the workplace and advised of the plan. It was also practicable for the company to use physical barriers to stop people using the pedestrian walkways from walking into areas where forklifts were operating. Mirrors could also have been used to improve forklift drivers’ visibility.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer urged employers to ensure their workplaces are safe and that employees and visitors are properly inducted. “We know that forklifts can be dangerous and there is simply no excuse for employers not doing everything possible to ensure that they operate in a way that is safe for everyone on the site,” Beer said.

Beer said this includes ensuring that traffic management plans are in place and up to date, and that anyone entering the workplace is properly inducted on safety. WorkSafe Victoria advises employers using mobile plant such as forklifts to implement a traffic management plan for pedestrians and powered mobile plant, and ensure that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate. Employers are also advised to ensure that pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.

Machinery and vehicles must also be inspected regularly and maintained by a suitably qualified person, with employees and health and safety representatives consulted about health and safety issues. Employers are urged to ensure that all workers operating equipment have the appropriate high-risk work licences, and that signage is in place and barriers erected where appropriate.

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