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January 2020

Business gets caught out taking shortcuts on safety

WorkSafe Victoria v Stadelmann Enterprises Pty Ltd (2017)

Facts

Stadelmann Enterprises Pty Ltd (the Company) operated an earthmoving business and was engaged to move a 17-tonne excavator by way of truck and trailer to a work site. The Company did not use any weight gauges to determine if the truck and trailer had been overloaded. Instead, employees were observing the impact of the load by looking at the truck tyres and seeing if they indicated any signs of overbearing. While two employees were in the truck, the trailer lost its load and the excavator was tipped out of the truck, causing injuries.

Judgment

The Magistrate heard that there was a risk of serious injury or death to employees and other road users as a result of the trailer becoming unstable or overloaded when transporting the excavator. The Company was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay costs of $2,349.

Lessons

The case clearly demonstrates that taking short cuts is not appropriate. Assessing the tyres visually as indicators for overloading was simply not adequate and no substitute for appropriate weight gauges. Companies should invest in appropriate safety measures to avoid risks of injuries, not only to their employees but also to members of the public.

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