Victorian workplaces are being warned to lift their game on traffic management following the prosecution of a national packing company after a worker was struck by a forklift.
In the Wodonga Magistrates’ Court, Visy Packaging Pty Ltd was convicted and placed on an adjourned undertaking for 12 months.
As a special condition, the company was ordered to pay $112,500 to Melbourne University‘s Marie Tehan Medical Fund.
The prosecution comes only two months after national company Swire Cold Storage was convicted and fined following an incident where a forklift was driven into the path of a worker operating a pallet mover.
“On average, three people are seriously injured by forklifts every week in Victorian workplaces, a totally unacceptable situation,” WorkSafe’s Manufacturing and Logistics Director Ross Pilkington said.
“Many of these injuries are due to lack of separation between forklifts and workers.
“WorkSafe inspectors can’t monitor every workplace 24 hours a day - Victorian workplaces need to get the message that people and forklifts don’t mix, and it’s up to employers to make sure they’re separated,” he said.
The December 2008 incident occurred when a female employee was walking through Visy’s Wodonga manufacturing warehouse. She stopped at a crossroads, saw an approaching forklift, and thought the driver was signaling that it was safe for her to cross.
When she stepped forward, she was struck by a second forklift which was approaching from another direction.
As a result of the collision, the woman suffered serious leg injuries and skin grafts.
After the incident, WorkSafe inspectors issued prohibition and improvement notices, requiring the company to eliminate the risk of collision between pedestrians and forklifts.
“Despite years of communicating the message that people and forklifts don’t mix, workplace behaviour does not reflect the fact that these machines can seriously hurt or kill if they hit someone – regardless of the speed at which they travel,” Mr Pilkington said.