Vic company fined after worker fatally struck by B-double
Victorian transport company Malec Holdings Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $320,000 after a truck driver was fatally struck by a B-double at a Yarraville depot in 2020. The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide and maintain a system of work that was safe and without risks to health. In October 2020, two truck drivers returned from their usual trips collecting log loads from New South Wales. After unloading the logs, the drivers commenced the process of cleaning, refuelling and parking their trucks.
As one driver reversed his truck towards the parking lot in the cramped yard, the other followed closely on foot. As the driver moved forward and began a U-turn, the deceased stood on a pile of wood debris about 10 metres away. As the truck continued its U-turn, the deceased slipped or tripped on the pile of wood debris and was run over by the axis of the rear trailer. He died at the scene.
An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria found that it was reasonably practicable for the company to have reduced the risk of injury and death by removing, as much as possible, the need for B-doubles to reverse in the workplace, and by implementing a traffic management plan that identified safety hazards and risks and implemented pedestrian or truck exclusion zones, with clearly marked and barricaded pedestrian walkways.
WorkSafe advises employers using mobile plant to 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 between operators, transport contractors and ground staff in place. Signage and barriers must also be used where appropriate.
Employers are also advised to ensure that workers operating equipment have the appropriate high risk work licences, and that machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a qualified person. Visibility issues must also be identified and controlled, particularly if the lighting is poor.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said tragedies such as this are too common, with 15 people losing their lives and another 372 injured in vehicle-related incidents so far this year. Beer added that this incident could have been avoided if the right controls had been in place. “In any workplace where vehicles are present a traffic management plan is an essential measure to prevent loss of life or serious injury, and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any duty holder who fails to prepare and implement such a plan,” Beer said.
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