A major retailer has been fined $150,000 without conviction after pleading guilty to failing to ensure that their workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
Spotlight Pty Ltd entered the guilty plea on 31 July in Werribee Magistrates’ Court after a truck driver was twice run over by a mobile shipping container transporter at the company’s Laverton North distribution centre, and left with severe injuries. The truck driver had been walking along a marked pedestrian path towards his truck when the incident occurred, the court heard.
At the same time, a mobile straddle carrier was unloading a shipping container from the truck. As the carrier moved forward, it struck the driver and its front wheel ran over his leg. A Spotlight employee saw that the driver was trapped and signalled to the carrier who reversed the transporter back over the driver’s leg. The incident left the driver with a broken ankle, dislocated knee and crushed foot, which led to the amputation of a toe.
WorkSafe Victoria reported that Spotlight has made a number of changes since the incident, including marking out designated loading zones, pedestrian exclusion zones and driver safety zones, and re-marking the pedestrian path. The company has also decommissioned the carrier and now employs a security officer at the entry point to the loading area to direct truck drivers when they arrive.
WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was unacceptable to allow pedestrians and mobile plants to operate in a shared space without adequate control measures in place.
“This incident is a terrible example of what can happen when mobile machinery and pedestrian workers mix,” Nielsen said. “Unfortunately it is not an isolated example, and there have been many incidents involving machinery and pedestrians where workers have been seriously injured or even killed.
“All employers must ensure machinery and pedestrians are adequately separated and that systems and processes are in place to protect workers at all sites.”
To prevent similar incidents, employers using a mobile plant must ensure that: a traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plants and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate; pedestrians are separated from machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place; and signage and barriers are posted in appropriate areas.
Employers should also control any visibility issues such as lighting, have machines and vehicles inspected and maintained regularly by a suitably qualified person and ensure that workers operating the equipment have the appropriate high-risk licences, as required.
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