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How failing to implement a traffic management plan can have fatal consequences

A recent decision in the NSW District Court is a timely reminder of the importance of ensuring that a traffic management plan is put in place when there is a risk of harm from an interaction between plant and pedestrians.

Case background

On 24 May 2018, an employee of Aussie Skips, Mr Singarajah, was fatally injured when a front-end loader reversed over him at a South Strathfield waste transfer station.

Mr Singarajah was employed as a yardman/labourer, who were colloquially referred to as “pickers” by the other workers. On site, the pickers were tasked with removing recyclable materials by hand and placing them in a designated area to be moved by a loader for further processing. Mr Singarajah was struck while standing in the blind spot of a reversing front-end loader. The pre-start check of the vehicle had failed to detect that its rear-view camera was not operational.

The decision

Aussie Skips pleaded guilty on account of its failure to ensure the health and safety of its employees working at the South Strathfield site.

The Court found that Aussie Skips had failed to discharge its safety duty by:

  • not conducting a risk assessment that considered the danger to pedestrians undertaking work in the vicinity of heavy vehicles;
  • not marking clear pedestrian walkways and exclusion zones where heavy vehicles were operating;
  • failing to provide a means for heavy vehicle operators to communicate with pedestrian workers;
  • not implementing a site-specific traffic management plan to direct heavy vehicles;
  • failing to adopt safe systems of work for the operation of the front-end loader, including enforcing a documented pre-start inspection of the vehicle; and
  • permitting workers to hand-pick in the section of the yard where mobile plants were operational.

The Court imposed a $525,000 fine.

Protect yourself from liability

Find out how to implement an effective traffic management plan in your workplace in the Health & Safety Handbook chapter Traffic Management. And keep your eyes peeled for additions to this chapter and new case law in this area coming over the next few weeks.

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