Car auctioneer fined for workplace incident resulting in forklift operator’s death

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Photo: SafetyCulture Library

A car auctioneer in Sydney has been fined $255,000 for breaching sections 32/19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure the health and safety of workers over an incident in which a forklift operator was fatally injured while unloading a truck at Milperra in 2013.

The victim, a 36-year-old forklift operator together with a 19-year-old labourer tried to move a cabinet from a truck onto a forklift at the company’s motor vehicle storage and auction site. The labourer had only been employed two months earlier and was not provided with instructions on how to perform the work task safely. He asked the forklift operator for assistance in moving the cabinet but they lost control of the cabinet and were both stuck. The forklift operator died while the labourer suffered from fractures to his ribs and an injured knee.

“Forklifts continue to be a major factor in workplace deaths and injuries,” said Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy.

“Between July 2012 and July 2014, 1,360 workers were injured in forklift incidents, including five fatalities.

“The social and economic impact is also significant, including a cost of $15.8 million to the NSW workers’ compensation scheme.

“Young workers makeup approximately 12 percent of all employment injuries and occupational diseases across the State, and are more vulnerable to workplace safety risks because of their inexperience or reluctance to speak up about safety concerns,” he said.

Mr. Dunphy said investigations found a lack of safety systems, instruction and supervision were major contributors to the fatal incident when the company failed to train and provide instructions to the worker on how he can safely remove the cabinet from the truck and which forklift could safely be used for the task.

“This resulted in the workers selecting the wrong sized forklift with tragic results.,” he said.

“The incident highlights the need for employers to have appropriate systems in place to ensure that all workers, particularly young workers, receive training and support to work safely.”

Control the Hazards: Forklift Safe Work Method Statements

Ensure your workers are properly trained and aware of the hazards involved with forklift work tasks. Safe Work Method Statements to assist businesses are listed below:

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