05:33 pm, Saturday 3 April, 2010
The Armadale Magistrates Court has fined an employee on Monday over an unauthorized use of a forklift and injuries suffered by a workplace visitor.
The worker – an archivist for analytical services company to the mining industry – pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of another person and failing to report an injury. She was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $2,000 costs.
In April 2007, two men visited the archivist in her workplace. One of the men stayed in the carpark while the other went with her inside the Maddington premises.
Once inside, the employee took her visitor for a joyride on the forklift. When she turned the machine to the left, the side of the forklift struck a stack of boxes. The visitor, who was riding next to the forklift’s seat, was pinned between it and some racking.
The other visitor took the injured man to the hospital. He sustained a broken collarbone and shoulder blade, fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
The court heard the archivist did not have a license to operate the company forklift and had been expressly forbidden by her employer to operate the forklift, which displayed a warning that only licensed operators could use it.
The archivist did not report the incident to her employer, and the employer only became aware of the incident when the injured man’s mother informed the company a few days after the incident.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said the case serves as a reminder that employers do not have the sole responsibility for the safety and health of workers.
“Workplace safety and health legislation here in WA requires that employees take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of themselves and any other person in the workplace,” she said.
“This case is a timely reminder that employers are not the only ones who need to participate in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.
“The worker was not licensed to operate the forklift and the employer had warned her not to operate it, but she made the decision to take it for a joyride. Unfortunately there were serious consequences, both to her finances and the health of her visitor.
“The injury to the man was not reported to the employer, so another lesson to be learned from this case is that incidents must be reported to the employer, who may then be obliged to notify WorkSafe of the injury.
“This unfortunate incident has caused suffering to both parties, and it is worth repeating that everyone in a workplace has some level of responsibility for keeping the workplace safe.”
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