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Court imposes hefty fine for forklift incident

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 ( #681 ) - Tauranga, New Zealand
Local News Story
Three companies were prosecuted after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift. PHOTO: DREAMSTIME.COM
The Tauranga District Court in New Zealand has fined three companies a total of almost $120,000 and ordered them to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift at a kiwifruit packhouse at Mount Maunganui in May last year.

Erica Machado, 33, had been straightening boxes in the packhouse in an area designated for the assembly of kiwifruit packaging trays when the forklift backed into her. She suffered a fractured ankle, which required pins inserted in it, as well as a large laceration to one of her legs.

The company that employed her, LRK Trays Limited, the packhouse operator and employer of the forklift driver, Mount Pack and Cool Limited, and the company that supplied the kiwifruit trays, Orora Packaging Limited (formerly Amcor Packaging (NZ) Ltd), were all convicted under the Health and Safety Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that she was not harmed at work.

WorkSafe New Zealand chief investigator Keith Stewart says the companies failed to put in place proper workplace rules to manage the risk posed by forklifts to workers on foot.

"This incident could have been easily avoided if a barrier had been put in place to prevent the forklift from moving into the tray makers’ area.

"Without proper barriers or some form of isolation, an accident such as this was sadly predictable. All three companies should have done more to ensure that forklifts were kept well away from the area Ms Machado was working in."
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