WorkSafe Prosecution Corner


25 Jun 2018

A major freight and logistics company has been fined more than half a million dollars after a worker was crushed to death by falling pallets.

The company was also ordered to pay reparations of almost $120,000 for emotional harm and consequential loss in addition to the $105,000 which has already been paid to the man’s family.

The worker died in 2016 when the pallets fell while being moved from a train wagon by forklift. The man was standing beside the forklift when the pallets fell as the driver reversed.

WorkSafe found the company had not identified the risk of a pedestrian being hit by freight falling from forklifts and its pedestrian safety system relied on administrative controls that were unclear and contradictory.

WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries said that pedestrians and moving plant need to be segregated to avoid tragic fatalities like this.

“This was a much-loved father and grandfather whose death would not have occurred if there had been effective controls in place. Administrative controls like rules and procedures are simply not enough, pedestrians need to be segregated from forklift activity.”

Humphries said that WorkSafe respected that this was a workplace that was constantly changing with many moving vehicles, plant and personnel, but more needed to be done to keep workers safe.

“Fixed barriers to separate people from moving plant don’t work in every workplace, but a temporary barrier and warning signage would have kept the victim outside of the dangerous area and alive.”

Takeaway

Vehicles and plant are a major risk in many industries. It is important that these risks are regularly assessed. Where the hazard can not be eliminated, safer ways of working, ways of isolating the hazard and engineering solutions should be put in place first wherever possible. If a risk still remains, administrative controls and PPE should also be implemented.

To learn more about managing risk, consider enrolling in our Risk Management course.