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January 2020

Business fined $90,000 for failing to conduct a risk assessment

Business fined $90,000 for failing to conduct a risk assessment

Comcare v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd (2015)

Facts

Linfox Australia was engaged to provide warehousing services to Ikea Distribution Services Australia. A worker sustained significant crush injuries when he was struck by a forklift at the worksite.

Linfox Australia admitted to failing to implement safe systems of work – in particular, failing to conduct a proper risk assessment of the process of unloading cardboard pallets from shipping containers. This risk assessment should have taken into account the special dangers posed by unloading cardboard pallets that were not commonly known to Linfox. Further, the risk assessment should have identified that there was a need to separate forklifts and pedestrians.

Judgment

The Federal Court convicted the business for those failures and imposed a fine of $90,000. The Court noted that the simple remedial steps the business took after the incident could have helped to prevent the incident if they had been put in place before it occurred.

Lessons

Businesses that are involved in managing the work involving interaction between mobile plant and pedestrians have to implement effective systems to ensure they are separated so as not to expose pedestrians to a risk of injury. When there is an unusual hazard from a work practice not commonly undertaken, it is critical that a proper risk assessment is conducted and that controls are put in place.

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