Company fined $100,000 following forklift injury

A logistics company supplying supermarket chains has been fined $100,000 after a worker was injured by a forklift.

Whilst the incident occurred at a factory in Laverton North, Victoria it raises the importance of ensuring a traffic management system, separating mobile machinery from pedestrians is in place.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Pty Ltd was convicted and fined at Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on 26 February this year, after pleading guilty to a single charge under Section 21 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failure to provide a safe system of work by not having a traffic management system in place.

The company was also ordered to pay WorkSafe’s costs of $6,555.

The incident occurred at a factory operated by Hellmann Worldwide Logistics in Laverton North where containers of food and other consumables are received for distribution to supermarket chains.

The court heard that an electric forklift operated by one worker was reversing when it struck a second worker who was walking behind.

That worker, who was wearing a high visibility vest at the time, was pushed to the ground and under the forklift, receiving a fractured leg.

Both workers were employees of a labour hire company.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed there was no traffic management system in place at the time of the incident and no physical barriers or other means of separating mobile machinery from pedestrians.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has since put in place pedestrian walkways defined by fixed barriers at the factory.

The labour hire company was separately charged for failing to conduct a risk assessment and failing to liaise with Hellmann Worldwide Logistics regarding risks arising from the work to be performed. That matter was resolved by way of an enforceable undertaking.

Employers using mobile machinery such as forklifts should ensure:

  • all workers receive appropriate induction and training on the work they are to be involved in, and that a register of training and induction is maintained on file.
  • A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
  • Pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • Signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
  • Visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.
  • Machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained, by a suitably qualified person.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria