12:48 pm, Friday 13 May, 2011
A Perth employer and a labour hire company have been fined a total of $120,000 after a man lost his leg while operating a forklift in 2008.
The man, from the United Kingdom, was on a working holiday and was one of two men employed by a labour hire company and contracted to a bed store store in Kewdale.
After placing a pallet on a top shelf within a warehouse, he did not lower the forks and mast of the forklift before driving towards an open roller door.
The mast struck the roller door and began to tip over.
The man attempted to jump from the falling forklift but his right leg became trapped.
A second forklift had to be used to lift the fallen forklift from the man’s leg but the limb was so severely injured it had to be amputated below the knee.
WorkSafe said the man had no experience or qualification to use the machinery and had been given only a short lesson by a supervisor.
Both companies pleaded guilty last week to failing to ensure the provision of a safe workplace under a labour hire arrangement.
The employer was fined $80,000 and the labour hire company was fined $40,000.
An average 180 West Australian workers were injured in incidents involving forklifts each year and five WA workers had died in forklift-related incidents since 2004.
Acting WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the case should serve as a reminder that both labour hire companies and host employers were responsible for ensuring a safe workplace.
“In this case, neither the labour hire company nor the host employer fulfilled their obligation to ensure as far as was reasonably practicable that the host workplace was safe for the workers sent to it,” Mr McCulloch said.
“Although a [labour hire company] manager visited the workplace on a weekly basis, almost no effort was made to ensure workers were performing only the duties in their job descriptions, to communicate about changes of duties or to undertake hazard and risk assessments.
“It is apparent that the worker was not given sufficient training and instruction on how to operate a forklift, an item of plant that requires operators to obtain a High Risk Work licence.
“High Risk Work licences have been introduced for a good reason and that is to ensure that the people undertaking that work are trained to perform it in a safe manner for everyone concerned.”
“Forklifts – and indeed all mobile plant in workplaces – should be used with the greatest caution and only by workers who have the relevant skills and training,” he said.
“Clearly, neither company involved in this case took this advice, and a young worker has endured a great amount of suffering and a tragic and permanent injury as a result.
“It is worth repeating that it is crucial for both labour hire companies and host employers to be aware of their responsibilities for ensuring that workplaces are safe, and that they ensure that safe work practices are in place at all times.”
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