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January 2020

Failure to implement a traffic management plan

WorkSafe Victoria v Resource Recovery Victoria Pty Ltd (2015) (unreported*)

Facts

Resource Recovery Victoria Pty Ltd diverts recycling material from landfill for businesses in the building, construction, demolition, excavation, bobcat, tipper, bin and skip industries. The Resource Recovery transfer station is a high-traffic area with heavy vehicles dumping, sorting and clearing materials, and pedestrians working in close proximity to each other.

In October 2013, a worker was in control of a 20-tonne front-end loader when the loader’s bucket fell and struck another worker who was sitting in a smaller sweeper vehicle. The incident caused fatal injuries to that worker. At the time, Resource Recovery did not have a traffic management procedure in place, nor did they have any signs, lines or barriers to separate heavy vehicles from pedestrian workers.

Judgment

The County Court of Victoria found Resource Recovery guilty of two offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Vic) (OHS Act) and fined the business $450,000. The Court found that Resource Recovery had breached their obligations to provide a safe workplace under the OHS Act by failing to:

  • provide induction or training in relation to machinery;
  • develop and communicate a comprehensive traffic management plan; and
  • implement appropriate safety signs to separate pedestrians from heavy machinery.

Lessons

You must ensure that in workplaces where pedestrians and heavy machinery are in close proximity, a comprehensive traffic management plan is in place and is communicated to all workers and visitors to the workplace.

* What Are Unreported Judgements?

Unreported judgements are recent court decisions that have not yet been published in a law report series, although they have usually been published on the court’s website. Although they are less persuasive than reported judgements, they may still be cited as a statement of the law on a particular subject.

Induction and training in operating heavy machinery is also critical to ensure that workers are competently trained to use the equipment they are operating. You should use signs, lines and barriers to ensure the safety of pedestrians in hazardous workspaces.

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