Recycling company convicted for skid steer loader fatal incident

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A recycling company in Geelong has been convicted and fined $175,000 plus $3,580 costs after a worker was run over by a skid steer loader at its Grovedale transfer station and died.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide a safe working environment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 by failing to eliminate the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians.

The incident happened on 6 May 2016. The 29-year-old yard hand was walking back from a pile of waste carrying a sheet of material when he was struck by the skid steer as it was reversing. He died at the scene.

The court heard that while the company had some safety measures in place at the time of the incident, these controls were not being monitored or adhered to.

An investigation revealed that the company did not have an adequate traffic management plan in place to separate workers from the machine while it was operating and that workers could work in and around the machine.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said effective traffic management is important on sites where powered mobile machinery operated.

“Simple warnings and rules about staying away from moving machinery are not enough,” said Ms. Williams.

“Zones where machinery will be operating need to be clearly defined, and plans need to be drawn up ahead of time to ensure workers can perform their tasks without having to be in those zones.

“This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if these basic safety measures had been implemented and enforced. Instead, a young man’s life has been cut short and his family left with a lifetime of pain.”

Ms. Williams said that while skid steer loaders are important workplace tool, they can be dangerous if safety precautions were not observed.

“Traffic management plans need to be formalized and updated as sites change and the areas where mobile machinery operates shifts,” she said.

“Employers need to identify where the risks are, ensure they are controlled, and that appropriate training for machinery operators and other workers is undertaken on a regular basis.”

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