Trucking firm and bakery fined over forklift injury

Defective forklift brakes sees serious injury to truck driver and criticism of transporter and client

October 18, 2013

A Broken Hill bakery and a transport company have been fined a total of $130,000 in the New South Wales Industrial Court
after a truck driver was struck by a forklift and seriously injured in 2007, WorkCover NSW reports.

Truck driver William McMaster 51, who was employed by Levira, was delivering bread to a bakery operated by McLeod’s Traditional at the time.

During the delivery, he used a forklift at the bakery to move trolleys of bread.

After parking the forklift, McMaster was returning to his truck when the forklift rolled down a ramp and struck him, pinning him against the truck’s trailer.

A WorkCover NSW investigation found that the forklift’s brakes were defective.

Levira provided a metal ramp for its employees to use when unloading the bread but it was defective and could not be used at the time of the incident.

McMaster chose to use the forklift instead and Levira was aware that drivers sometimes used the forklift when unloading deliveries.

While the court found that McLeod’s Traditional had safe systems in place and had made some attempts to address the risk, the possibility of a person being crushed by a forklift was foreseeable when a defective forklift was left with the keys in it.

The Court was particularly concerned about the inadequate training the truck driver had received from Levira and the defective metal ramp, WorkCover says.

WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division General Manager, John Watson, says the incident reinforces the need for small-to-medium sized trucking businesses to be vigilant in ensuring worker’s safety when operating and transporting goods on trucks.

"This incident occurred because McLeod’s Traditional Pty Ltd did not secure the faulty forklift to prevent it from being used and because Levira Pty Ltd did not train its drivers to check forklifts before operating them," Watson states.

"Machinery like forklifts should be the subject of periodic inspections with preventative maintenance systems in place so that the risk of serious injury or death is substantially reduced.

"Levira did not provide a safe method for its workers to load and unload bread from its vehicles.

"This should have included a safe work method statement, proper equipment for the task and appropriate training and instruction for workers."

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