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September 2020

Car collides with a mobile elevated work platform

Car collides with a mobile elevated work platform

Case

United Access Pty Ltd

United Access Pty Ltd supplies elevated work platforms for hire. The mobile elevated work platforms are regularly loaded and unloaded on and off vehicles around the worksite for transportation to clients.

A worker had been engaged in loading a mobile elevated work platform onto a company vehicle on a road outside the site, when a passing motorist collided with the platform. The worker was ejected from the platform and sustained fatal head injuries.

United Access was charged with breaches of sections 21(1), 21(2)(a) and 23 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).

Judgment

United Access pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Court determined that the company’s practice of loading and unloading the mobile elevated work platforms on the road at the front of the worksite exposed workers to a risk of serious injury or death due to the risk of passing vehicles colliding with the platforms. The Court determined that it was reasonably practicable for United Access to have taken steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of collisions, and provide and maintain a system of work that was safe and without risks to health. In particular, it would have been reasonable to:

  • have a written system of work requiring that all loading and unloading of mobile elevated work platforms occur within the site;
  • have a written system of work allowing loading and unloading of mobile elevated work platforms on the road at the front of the worksite if loading and unloading within the site was not reasonably practicable;
  • have a written system of work defining additional precautions to take when loading or unloading on the road at the front of the site; and
  • communicate this system of work to all non-employees (truck drivers) who attend the site to assist with loading and unloading of mobile elevated work platforms.

The Court found United Access guilty on all charges. The company was convicted and sentenced to pay $85,000.

Lessons

Employers should rigorously assess potential risks associated with common workplace practice even where it is not the required company practice. Employers should also assess what external factors can impact on these practices, and expose employees and non-employees to health and safety risks.

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