You can't 'wing it' when it comes to plant safety
In an important lesson in not improvising when it comes to safe work procedures, Motor Car Traders Pty Ltd, trading as Neil Beer Motors, was recently fined $40,000 when a load on a forklift fell onto a worker.
As part of the company’s operations, a decision was made to clear out surplus items from its warehouse. Several workers removed items by hand while the heavier items had to be lifted using a forklift.
Among the heavy items that had to be moved was a vehicle transmission, located towards the back of the warehouse. As the forklift tynes were too short to reach it, the forklift operator decided to use a set of extension slippers he found nearby. However, the safety pins could not be located. Having fitted the slippers on the forklift without safety pins, the forklift operator got the load and reversed out of the shed. He noticed that one slipper was not inserted properly and a bracket prevented the tynes from being lowered. As a work-around, the forklift operator decided that the bracket could be cut using an angle grinder, thus freeing the forklift.
Another worker used the grinder but suffered very significant injuries when the load collapsed.
The Court found that:
- inappropriate and unsafe attachments were installed on the forklift;
- there was no safe working method statement; and
- there was no proper risk assessment.
It’s imperative to have safe work procedures in place when using plant like forklifts to avoid incidents such as the one in this case.
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