Fork Talk

Pilkington fined USD234,236 for putting worker at risk

Thursday, 28 July 2005 ( #219 )
The Pilkington glass factory.
The Pilkington glass factory.
An Australian glass manufacturer was fined A$310,000 (USD234,236) this week, one of the highest workplace fines imposed in Victoria, after a November 2001 workplace accident.

Pilkington (Australia) Operations Ltd was convicted and fined on two counts under the Victorian Operational Health and Safety Act (1985) after an eight-tonne load of glass fell from a forklift and crushed an employee to death at the company's Dandenong premises.

According to the Geelong Advertiser, Hung Nguyen Huu, was directing the driver of the forklift, which was carrying four packs of glass sheets, weighing almost 2 tonnes each.

As the forklift was reversing, the load toppled forward, crushing Huu who was in front of the forklift.

Judge Michael Bourke found the method used to move the glass had put the employee at "dire risk" if anything went wrong.

He said the company was obliged to apply safe equipment, methods and procedures, and ensure they were followed.

WorkSafe's manufacturing, logistics & agriculture director Trevor Martin said companies facing court frequently expressed regret about serious incidents but it was too late as the damage had been done.

"There is no shortage of advice on how forklifts can be safely used. Only last month WorkSafe released new guidance material for forklift owners and operators," Martin said.

Copies of WorkSafe's new 24-page booklet titled, Forklift safety - reducing risk, forklift instability are available online at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au.
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