Gippsland farm fined $80K following forklift incident

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A vegetable farm in Gippsland has been convicted and fined $80,000 following an incident in which a contractor was struck by a forklift.

The company pleaded guilty in the Sale Magistrates Court on Friday to failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the workplace was without risks to health and safety.

In December 2016, the 50-year-old contractor was walking along a corridor at the company’s site in Longford when she was struck by a forklift carrying cranes of lettuce.

She suffered from injuries including a dislocated shoulder, fractured pelvis, bruising and scarring, and has been unable to continue working in her role.

The company has since painted crossings and provided pedestrians with an alternative walkway to separate them from forklifts.

“Forklifts and pedestrian workers should be able to safely co-exist where reasonably practicable control measures are in place, however when they are not the consequences are often severe,” said WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen.

“A traffic management plan, which includes the physical separation of forklifts and people is essential and, in this case, would have avoided a worker receiving debilitating injuries.”

“Like all workers, contractors have every right to return home safely at the end of the day, so employers must ensure they are provided with a safe working environment.”

The farm has been fined $15,000 previously for another workplace safety violation after a worker stepped into an open drain base, and $70,000 after an employee was run over by a spinach seeder. Both incidents occurred in 2015.

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