Company fined after storage racks fall on customer

17-05-2011

A company has been ordered to pay $10,000 to the court fund and been put on to a 12 month undertaking to be of good behaviour after a customer was hurt when shelves collapsed on to him in February last year.

The incident happened when a man went to the premises of SR Murphy Holdings Pty Ltd, based at Wodonga on the NSW/Vic border, to buy some angle iron.

He was told by a worker to “help yourself” and was directed into a storage yard. 

WorkSafe VIC told the Wodonga Magistrates Court today he could not reach the top of the rack which contained the angle iron, so he climbed up a short distance and was reaching for a piece of metal when the rack began to move away from the shed wall.

The customer fell to the ground and the rack and its contents fell on him.

The 63-year-old man was taken to hospital where he was operated on and was in intensive care for five days. He suffered six broken ribs and fractures to the ribs, and cuts and bruising to both legs and other parts of his body.

The court was told:

  • The company did not ensure pallet racking was secured sufficiently to prevent it breaking away from the wall or from collapse
  • Signs designating the safe work load was not fixed to the pallet racking
  • There was no adequate safe work procedure in place for loading and unloading racking
  • Unaccompanied visitors were permitted to access all areas of the yard
  • The pallet racking and conduct loading or unloading of the racking without supervision
  • Visitors were not made aware of the safe working load limits of the pallet racking
  • Visitors were not prohibited from standing on the pallet racking.

The Court took into account the company’s good corporate standing, no prior convictions in its 40 years of operation and that it took prompt and remedial action in response to the incident.

The company addressed the above issues after the incident and has also been ordered to pay WorkSafe’s costs.

The director of WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logisitcs and Agriculture Division, Ross Pilkington said maintaining high safety standard was essential for any business.

“Whether you’re a CEO, supervisor or worker, making safety a priority is essential. If you’re a business leader getting involved in safety but understanding what’s going on in your operation is vital.”

For more advice or information on improving workplace safety call WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or go to www.worksafe.vic.gov.au.

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