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January 2020

Lack of information ends in fatal forklift incident

Lack of information ends in fatal forklift incident

Worksafe Victoria v CK Crouch Pty Ltd (2017)

The Case

CK Crouch Pty Ltd (Company) was contracted to a major poultry producer to catch and load live chickens for slaughter. The catch and load process involved cages being brought into a shed on a forklift at night. This shed was illuminated by a single row of dim blue lights. The forklift itself only had red lights with no reversing beeper. On the night of the incident, an employee was operating the forklift at 5km/h and fatally collided with another colleague.

Judgment

In making its decision, the Court recognised that the Company had created two written work procedures for catching and loading live chickens. Despite this, the employees were not aware of these procedures and had not been provided with information, instructions or training about the procedure. The Company could not provide written evidence that employees had received induction or other training. Also, the employees were not provided with reflective clothing to wear. As a result of these failures, the Company was ultimately fined $1,137,525.

Lessons

Companies must ensure they have a comprehensive safe work system in place. The decision in this case confirms that simply creating a safe work procedure is not sufficient. Companies must ensure that the information is provided to all employees and that they are trained in those procedures.

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