Refrigafreighters fined over forklift accident

News Story
- 30 May 2024 ( #1181 ) - Auckland, New Zealand
1 min read
Refrigafreighters was sentenced at Manukau District Court
Refrigafreighters was sentenced at Manukau District Court

A New Zealand refrigerated transport company has been fined NZD240,000 (USD148,000) for a forklift accident that left a worker with a punctured lung and broken back.

Casey Broad, the national manager of investigations for New Zealand’s WorkSafe, says the Refrigafreighters case was a wakeup call for all businesses that use forklifts.

“A worker had been collecting rubbish with the forklift. They parked it and put the handbrake on but when they got out it started to roll down the slope it was parked on,” Broad says in a statement.

The 33-year-old worker tried to recover the forklift but it tipped onto him and caused serious injuries.

“WorkSafe’s investigation verified the forklift hadn’t been maintained and serviced to the standard we’d expect," Broad says.

"We asked specialists to take a look and what they found was shocking – there were serious safety issues with the handbrake, to the point it would never have been able to stop the forklift from moving even on a slight incline.”

Refrigafreighters was sentenced at Manukau District Court on May 7. The company was fined NZD240,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and reparations of NZD62,279 (USD38,370) were ordered.

The maximum penalty is a fine of NZD1.5 million (USD974,000).

“Businesses must ensure that forklifts and other vehicles and machines are safe to use,” says Broad. 

“If businesses don’t meet their health and safety responsibilities, WorkSafe will hold them to account.”

“A lot of businesses use forklifts but like any vehicle they need to be serviced and maintained so issues are picked up early and fixed. If you don’t, things can go wrong quickly.”

“Unfortunately there are too many incidents involving forklifts in New Zealand – businesses can do better to keep people safe.”

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