Case law example: Worker trapped under toppled forklift

By Portner Press on June 8th, 2018
  1. Risk Management
  2. Risk Assessment


The Case
WorkSafe Victoria v Wodonga Rendering Pty Ltd (2017)

Wodonga Rendering Pty Ltd (Company) operated an abattoir that used rendering plant to process raw materials. On the day of the incident, workers were transporting bags of blood meal into a semi-trailer using a forklift with a lifting attachment and an Attollo rotator. This was the first time the Company had performed the transport task this way.

Although the forklift complied with Australian Standards, the Company’s testing process did not include the use of attachments or suspended loads. The forklift toppled over, trapping a worker and seriously injuring another.


The Company failed to conduct a risk assessment prior to commencing the task and failed to calculate the working load limit of the mobile plant. The Company also failed to provide information to determine the maximum weight that could be lifted by the forklift with the attachments.

The Company was fined $85,000.

Lessons for You

This is a clear reminder for companies that compliance with standards is not enough. Risk assessments must be undertaken for each new task and must assess all foreseeable scenarios when using the plant or equipment.

The Health & Safety Handbook chapter on Risk Assessment includes four downloadable templates you can use to help check that you are aware of the risks and have controls to manage those risk in advance of undertaking a task at your workplace.

Don’t risk hefty fines and injuries to your workers. Subscribe to the Handbook today and take advantage of the legal minds at Holding Redlich, who have written all 70-plus chapters covering the A-Z of health and safety law in plain English.


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