Forklift accident costs Star Freightlines plenty

WA operator fined $20,000 due to a forklift accident that injured delivery driver

June 12, 2013

A Western Australian operator has been fined $20,000 plus costs due to a forklift accident that left a delivery driver injured.

Massena Pty Ltd, trading as Star Freightlines, has pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment.

According to WorkSafe WA, at the time of the incident, which saw the driver’s leg run over by a forklift driven by a depot manager in Karratha, Massena did not have a policy requiring the horn of the forklift to be sounded before reversing, or a policy for the operation of forklifts in general.

It also did not have a policy on the speed at which forklifts were to be driven, or a requirement for operators to conduct regular pre-start checks.

The forklift’s reversing alarm had been faulty for several weeks and, although some maintenance work had been performed two weeks before this incident, the reversing alarm had not been repaired.

The injured driver was wearing black clothing at the time of the incident, and Massena did not supply workers with high-visibility clothing or have a policy requiring such clothing to be worn.

There were no formal policies requiring exclusion zones or otherwise ensuring the separation of pedestrians and forklifts.

The depot manager had received little handover from his predecessor and little training when he commenced in the position. He did not hold the appropriate High Risk Work Licence required to use the forklift.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch expressed his disappointment that there were still workplaces operating with such an apparent lack of safe work procedures.

"This employer has provided very little in the way of instruction, training or formal policies for safe systems of work at this workplace, and it is now suffering the consequences," McCulloch says.

"This workplace appears to have been an accident waiting to happen, and it is fortunate that this incident did not result in more serious injuries.

"Since this incident, the employer has repaired the reversing alarm on the forklift, and the depot manager has obtained the appropriate licence required to operate the forklift, but it took an injury to a worker to make it happen.

"Operating forklifts requires a High Risk Work Licence for a good reason, and it is of great concern that workers are still operating forklifts without having been adequately trained to perform the work safely and competently.

"I trust this prosecution has also encouraged the employer to get some formal policies into place for traffic control and the protection of workers at the Karratha depot."

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