Labour hire firm, directors fined for forklift injury

Hireoo Labour Pty Ltd was fined $40,000 without conviction in the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing, as far as reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment and plant or systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.

The directors each pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide information, instruction, training or supervision to enable employees to work safely and were fined $4500 and $2000 respectively without conviction.

Payment of costs totalling $4814 were also ordered.

The court heard the worker was helping to unload a shipping container in January 2022 when he walked behind the forklift being driven by the director who reversed without looking, hitting the worker and running over his leg.

The worker suffered a broken tibia and fibula and required surgery, including the insertion of a rod and three screws into his leg.

A WorkSafe investigation found the worker started working for Hireoo two days before the incident and had received no induction or training in relation to the workplace. It also found Hireoo did not have a forklift policy or a work procedure for unloading shipping containers and that its worker training, induction and supervision were inadequate.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was essential when operating forklifts that the correct safety measures were in place, such as a traffic management plan that included the separation of forklifts and pedestrians.

“It is simply unacceptable for a workplace to be operating mobile machinery such as forklifts while completely ignoring the control measures that must be in place to reduce the risks to workers,” Dr Beer said.

“It is also incredibly frustrating to see that this company and its directors have further failed their workers by not providing them with the proper training and supervision they need to stay safe at work.”

Employers using mobile plant such as forklifts should ensure:

  • A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
  • Pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • Signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
  • Visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.
  • Workers operating equipment have the appropriate high risk work licences, as required.
  • Machinery and vehicles and regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.
  • Employees and health and safety representatives are consulted about health and safety issues.

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