$650,000 fine after fatal road safety barrier crush

Saferoads Pty Ltd, known as Road Safety Rentals, faced penalty on Friday in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, for contravening two sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The court imposed a hefty fine of $425,000 for not safeguarding the people other than their employees from potential health or safety risks. Additionally, the company was penalised with $225,000 for failing to maintain a safe workplace and secure ingress and egress.

In November 2021, whilst unloading a stack of road safety barriers, each weighing nearly 925 kilograms, from a flatbed semi-trailer using a forklift, an unsecured barrier toppled onto a nearby standing delivery driver. The 34-year-old suffered fatal crush injuries to his head and neck and died at the scene.

A subsequent investigation by WorkSafe revealed that, despite having established standard operating procedures (SOPs) and a Bluesafe Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for the task in question— which mandated the use of a safety zone during loading and unloading— the company neglected to enforce these procedures and failed to inform delivery drivers about them.

CCTV footage of the days preceding the unfortunate incident— collected during the investigation— displayed repeated unsafe practices with bystanders in close proximity to loaded forklifts. The company could have realistically mitigated the risk by ensuring proper safety spacing between pedestrians and moving machinery during the operation, and enforcing compliance with the regulatory protocols in place, especially those regarding communication with delivery drivers.

Narelle Beer, WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, emphasised that the awful mishap could have been averted had the firm been more assertive in executing its own policies and SOPs. “All workers have an unalienable right to return home unharmed,” said Dr Beer. He stressed the importance of employers making certain that everyone at the workplace is well-versed with procedural guidelines and abides by them.

The incident underlines the crucial role WHS management systems and policies such as Bluesafe WHS Management System have in ensuring a safe workplace environment. When using mobile plant machinery like forklifts, these measures prove especially vital.

You can get in touch via email at media@worksafe.vic.gov.au or call us on 0438 786 968. To subscribe to media releases, please visit our website.

Original article link: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2024-05/650000-fine-after-fatal-road-safety-barrier-crush

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