Regulator frustrated after yet another forklift-related breach

In Victoria, food service wholesaler CBB Enterprises Pty Ltd was fined a total of $35,000, without conviction, for failing to provide a safe working environment and failing to contact WorkSafe Victoria immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident had occurred.

CBB was charged with and pleaded guilty to the breaches, under the State OHS Act, after a pedestrian worker was struck by a forklift and sustained severe leg injuries requiring surgery.

He suffered post-operative infections and has not been able to return to to work.

The April 2021 incident occurred when the forklift reversed around a corner at CBB's Dandenong South warehouse and ran over the worker's leg and foot.

The Dandenong Magistrates Court heard the employer did not have a traffic management plan to separate pedestrians and forklifts, and it had been reasonably practicable for it to implement clearly designated exclusion zones, pedestrian walkways and safety barriers.

After CBB was sentenced, WorkSafe health and safety executive director Dr Narelle Beer said it was "frustrating that forklift injuries are still so prevalent considering the enormous amount of guidance, information and regulation that occurs".

Last year, WorkSafe responded to two forklift fatalities by describing the vehicles as hazards that should be "eliminated" from workplaces where reasonably practicable (see related article).

Several weeks earlier, SafeWork NSW warned employers that they could be forced to stop using forklifts where they failed to operate them in accordance with WHS laws (see related article).

After CBB was sentenced, WorkSafe said that in addition to ensuring pedestrians are separated from moving machinery, employers should implement an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff, and take steps to identify and control visibility issues, particularly where lighting is poor.

To check for more Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.  

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