On Monday 11th September, a poultry contractor was convicted and fined $1.13 million over a forklift tragedy in 2015. The death occurred on a farm near Geelong, when a worker was struck and killed by a forklift.
At the time of the incident, workers from the poultry contractor were attending the farm to catch and load live chickens. The lights in the shed had been dimmed to reduce the stress on the animals.
At about 11pm, a forklift, carrying a full cage of chickens, was moving through the shed at about 5km/h. It was at this time that it struck the worker as he was picking up a chicken.
The 41-year-old worker, who was wearing dark clothing, suffered serious chest, spine and pelvis injuries and died at the scene.
The company was found guilty of 3 breeches of Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act:
- 2 charges of failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work
- 1 charge of failing to provide information, instruction and training to workers
Although the company had two written procedures for:
- Catching and loading the chickens; and
- Safety around workers and forklifts,
the court heard that workers were not aware of these procedures. Nor had they not been provided with information, instructions or training about the safe working procedures around forklifts.
And to top it off, the forklift driver had not been inducted into the safety procedures.
WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the company’s safety procedures they weren’t worth the paper they were on, because they’d provided non of the information or training to their employees.
During WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation, the company could not produce records of any employees receiving induction or any other training in the above procedures. In addition, workers were not provided with, or required to wear, reflective clothing during the catching and loading process. Even though they were working near a moving forklift in near dark conditions.
Written safety procedures is simply not enough. Safety procedures must be put into practice.
Some key safety tips, provided by WorkSafe Victoria, which are applicable to any company where mobile plant or equipment operates within the vicinity of workers, include:
- Ensure all workers receive appropriate induction and training
- Maintain a register of training and inductions
- Regularly inspect and maintain machinery and vehicles
- Review and regularly update traffic management plans as required
- Isolate and separate workers and the public from powered machinery and vehicles
- Implement an effective communication system between forklift operators, transport contractors and workers
- Ensure appropriate signage is in place and erect barriers where appropriate
- Identify and control visibility issues, particularly if lighting is poor (eg. fog, rain, night works)
If your workplace needs help to make sure mobile plant and equipment operates safely around workers, contact WLSS.