Company and worker prosecuted after forklift hitchhike

Wednesday, 10 December, 2008

Hitching a ride on a forklift caused a worker’s leg to be broken after being run over by the forklift, subsequently resulting in a WorkSafe prosecution.

Benalla sawmilling company Ryan and McNulty pleaded guilty to two health and safety charges relating to its failure to provide and maintain a safe workplace and failing to report the incident to WorkSafe. Benalla Magistrate Paul Smith ordered a comprehensive package of requirements on the company under new ‘alternate penalty’ provisions allowed under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Magistrate heard that two young workers were returning from a break when one jumped onto the outside of the forklift. The other man then shot water from a fire hose at him. As the forklift driver tried to keep away from the water, the rider jumped or fell from the machine and was run over.

As part of its Court undertaking, Ryan and McNulty issued a media release urging other business to improve safety standards and will take part in a briefing to other businesses.

The company’s director, Greg McNulty, will do a 5-day OHS course within 12 months and the company will provide $40,000 to the Goulburn-Ovens Institute of TAFE for safety equipment in timber industry and OHS training programs.

The company will also develop and implement a comprehensive induction program for its own use. The plan will cover plant and forklift safety, employee safety requirements, the role of supervisors, and the management of contractors and labour hire employees. All forklift operators will do refresher training.

The worker with the fire hose was convicted, placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to do a TAFE course agreed to by WorkSafe within 12 months.

The director of WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Division, Ross Pilkington, said the penalties send a clear message to employers and workers to ensure safety standards were maintained: “Young and inexperienced workers are particularly vulnerable. The young often have a sense that ‘it can’t happen to me’, but the reality is that it can and does. Ensuring they’re properly trained and supervised, and that those superior to them are maintaining safety standards, will ensure they get to go home at the end of the day.”


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