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May 2020

Company fined $25,000 after trailer collides with a forklift

Company fined $25,000 after trailer collides with a forklift

Case

WorkSafe Victoria v Clifford Hallam Healthcare Pty Ltd

Clifford Hallam Healthcare Pty Limited (Clifford Hallam) is a company involved in healthcare services and products. It had a warehouse facility in Dandenong, which moved to a new site in Keysborough 2 months before the incident.

On 16 July 2018, a forklift driver was working in the dispatch department of the warehouse, unloading palletised goods in a prime mover truck, which had a side-curtain trailer. While performing the task, the forklift driver repeatedly asked the truck driver to move away from the loading area. The truck driver eventually complied and was out of sight of the forklift driver. However, at some point the truck driver entered the prime mover truck and started driving it forwards while the task was still being performed by the forklift driver. The forklift tines were still inside the truck trailer with a load of goods when the truck was driven forwards, which caused a vertical beam inside the trailer to collide with the forklift tines, tipping the forklift onto the ground. The forklift driver was inside the forklift cabin but was not injured.

Judgment

The Dandenong Magistrates Court found Clifford Hallam to be in breach of s 21 of Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $25,000 without conviction.

In its early plea, the company acknowledged that it had failed to implement a traffic management plan, including:

  • establishing a delivery driver safety zone with markings on the ground and signage on the walls;
  • requiring delivery drivers to hand their keys to forklift operators; and
  • requiring forklift operators to immediately cease work if they cannot visually locate a delivery driver.

The Court heard that Clifford Hallam had a traffic management plan for its previous warehouse but overlooked implementing one when it moved to the new site, creating a risk of mobile plant colliding with other vehicles or pedestrians.

Lessons

Employers need to ensure their systems of work are compliant with their safety obligations to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. Employers must always ensure that they have adequate work health and safety systems and management plans in place when operating its business.

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