News story

Company fined after forklift injures worker

Thursday, 19 September 2013 ( #634 ) - Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
The Industrial Court has fined Holsten's Pty Ltd a total of $66,000 plus legal fees after an employee was crushed between a roller door and a forklift back rail while manually closing a roller door.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company for failing to provide a safe system of work and for permitting an employee to carry out high-risk work (operating a forklift) without an appropriate licence.

The court heard that a roller door at the company's premises had been intermittently
malfunctioning for some time and was instead operated manually. This was achieved by lifting an employee on the tines of a forklift to a height that enabled the roller door to be manually pulled down, usually to a height of up to 1.5 metres.

The employer was aware of this practice and did not stop the use of the forklift for this purpose, despite the availability of a platform ladder at the premises.

Other employees who regularly operated the forklift did not hold valid high-risk work
licences.

On the day of the incident, the employee was raised higher than usual and subsequently crushed between the roller door and the back rail of the forklift. He was admitted to hospital and treated for injuries to his ribs, back, right shoulder, chest, stomach and lungs.

"Workplace injuries and incidents involving forklifts are all too common," says Bryan Russell, executive director, SafeWork SA.

"Employers and operators are reminded that forklift operation is a high-risk activity, and heavy penalties apply for breaches of safety laws including operating, or allowing a person to operate, a forklift while not holding a valid licence," he said.

Earlier this week in New Zealand, a 39-year-old man fell six metres onto concrete while using a forklift as a makeshift platform to do maintenance on a sign.

The Dominion Post reports that the man received injuries to his head and back and is in a serious condition in hospital.

An investigation is now under way by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.
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