Lack of information ends in fatal forklift incident
Worksafe Victoria v CK Crouch Pty Ltd (2017)
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, an employee was operating the forklift at 5km/h and fatally collided with another colleague.
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 employees 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 employees had received induction or other training. Also, the employees were not provided with reflective clothing to wear. As a result of these failures, the Company was ultimately fined $1,137,525.
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.
Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.
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