A Laverton-based wool processing business was this week convicted and fined $75,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over an incident in which a truck driver suffered significant spinal injuries.
Victoria Wool Processors (Aust.) Pty Ltd was convicted on one charge of breaching the 2004 OHS Act for failing to provide a safe working environment to people other than employees.
The business was also ordered to pay costs of $17,000.
On 30 July 2013, the driver drove his truck and two trailers to the unloading area at the workplace to deliver wool bales. Once in the unloading area, he got out of his truck and commenced winding up restraining straps on the bales.
At this time, he was struck by a falling wool bale which knocked him to the ground. The bale, weighing almost 140 kilograms, had been dislodged by a forklift driver while unloading bales on the other side of the truck.
The man suffered three fractured vertebrae and as a result of his injuries had to have two vertebrae fused together and two steel rods inserted along his spine. His knee also suffered damage and required time in a full-length splint.
The court heard that Victoria Wool Processors (Aust.) Pty Ltd failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training in regard to safe operating procedures for the unloading of trucks, and failed to supervise compliance with such procedures.
The court also heard that the workplace failed to provide a designated safe area for truck drivers to wait during unloading and loading.
“This case is a prime example of a business that has failed to understand and control the risks inherent with their operations and, as a result, a person has suffered life-changing injuries,” said WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Marnie Williams.
“There were clear risks to health and safety at this workplace where forklifts and truck drivers were present in the same busy unloading area. This, coupled with a total absence of information, instruction and training in regard to safe operating procedures, was simply unacceptable.
“Employers have a responsibility to ensure appropriate risk assessment is carried out and that all workers who come into contact with their operations are appropriately inducted and trained.”
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.