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January 2020

Cantilevered rack collapse seriously injures worker

Cantilevered rack collapse seriously injures worker

WorkSafe Victoria v Vehicle Storage & Engineering Pty Ltd (2019)

Facts

Vehicle Storage & Engineering Pty Ltd (the company) was a vehicle body fabrication business that was also involved in steel fabrication work.

A labour hire worker engaged by the company suffered a workplace injury when they were transferring steel components onto a cantilevered rack. The steel components weighed more than 900kg, which was a heavier load than the rack was designed to handle. The rack collapsed under the heavy weight, causing the steel components to fall and crush the labour hire worker’s leg.

Judgment

The Magistrate’s Court found that the company failed to provide a safe workplace as the racking system used by the injured worker was not engineered to handle the loads it was being used for. Also, there were no signs in place signalling the maximum weight that could be used on the rack, nor were there any instructions on how to distribute the weight evenly on the rack.

The Magistrate’s Court found there was a risk of serious injury or death as the required task involved transferring 900kg of steel. The company pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $40,000 and costs of $3,107.

Lessons

Employers need to ensure their systems of work are compliant with their safety obligations. The cantilevered rack was an essential component of the workplace, however there were no instructions or information notifying workers how to use it safely.

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