$175,000 pre-Christmas forklift safety warning

Monday, 08 December, 2008

A Laverton North cold storage company has been convicted and fined $175,000 for the forklift-related death of a worker on 13 April 2005.

AB Oxford Cold Storage pleaded guilty to workplace health and safety charges, after a WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that it did not have any adequate traffic management system in place when a forklift hit 38-year-old Stephen Peluso, of Elwood.

During sentencing, the judge noted that:

  • there was a pressing backlog of material at the company’s warehouse that had to be moved or stored;
  • pedestrian walkways were crossed by forklifts; and
  • visibility for forklift drivers was hindered by stacked pallets.

The judge said the forklift driver bore no responsibility for the fatality and that the company’s managers should have known and identified the risks beforehand.

WorkSafe’s executive director, John Merritt, said with warehouses and businesses facing their busiest time of the year it is essential they have, and enforce, high standards of traffic management.

“There will be a lot of pressure to get stock into and out of warehouses, shops and shopping centres in the next few weeks," Merritt said.

“At this time of year, many people in these environments are young and/or inexperienced.

“Having safe forklift management practices reduces risks and ensures everyone will make it to Christmas and beyond,” he said.


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