Case law: Lack of information ends in fatal forklift incident and massive fine

By Jeff Salton on May 8th, 2018
  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. Safe Operating Procedures


Worksafe Victoria v CK Crouch Pty Ltd (2017)

The Case

CK Crouch Pty Ltd (Company) was contracted to a major poultry producer to catch and load live chickens for slaughter. The catch and load process involved cages being brought into a shed on a forklift at night. This shed was illuminated by a single row of dim blue lights. The forklift itself only had red lights with no reversing beeper. On the night of the incident, a worker was operating the forklift at 5km/h and fatally collided with another colleague.

The Judgment

In making its decision, the Court recognised that the Company had created two written work procedures for catching and loading live chickens. Despite this, the workers were not aware of these procedures and had not been provided with information, instructions or training about the procedure.

The Company could not provide written evidence that workers had received induction or other training. Also, the workers were not provided with reflective clothing to wear.

As a result of these failures, the Company was fined $1,137,525.

Lessons for You

Companies must ensure they have a comprehensive safe work system in place. The decision in this case confirms that simply creating a safe work procedure is not sufficient. Companies must ensure that the information is provided to all employees and that they are trained in those procedures.

Developing a safe operating procedure (SOP) is a critical component of your responsibility to provide a systematic and organised approach to workplace safety. SOPs can be used to demonstrate to the Courts that you have taken steps to control risks associated with each critical task.

An SOP should not be a generic document but rather it should be specific to your workplace and the tasks your workers perform.

The Health & Safety Handbook chapter on Safe Operating Procedures has checklists, step-by-step processes to follow, plus downloadable and editable templates to ensure you create a document that meets your health and safety obligations and that your workers can understand and implement.

Don’t delay, order your copy of the Handbook today and put this great business tool to work.


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