Hitching a ride on a forklift and playing with a fire hose has resulted in a company and a young worker being prosecuted by WorkSafe.
A worker’s leg was broken and required two permanent pins to be inserted after it was run over by a forklift in April last year.
Benalla hardwood sawmilling company, Ryan and McNulty, pleaded guilty to two health and safety charges relating to its failure to provide and maintain a safe workplace and failing to report the incident to WorkSafe.
Benalla Magistrate Paul Smith ordered a comprehensive package of requirements on the company under new ‘alternate penalty’ provisions allowed under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
WorkSafe told Magistrate Smith last week that two young workers were returning from a break when one jumped on to the outside of the forklift. The other man then shot water from a fire hose at him.
As the forklift driver tried to keep away from the water, the 17-year-old rider either jumped or fell from the machine and was run over.
As part of its Court undertaking, Ryan and McNulty Pty Ltd issued a media release urging other business to improve safety standards and will take part in a briefing to other businesses.
The company’s director, Greg McNulty will do a five-day Occupational Health and Safety Course within 12 months, and the company will provide $40,000 to the Goulburn-Ovens Institute of TAFE (Benalla) for safety equipment in timber industry and OHS training programs.
The company will also develop and implement a comprehensive induction program for its own use. The plan will cover plant and forklift safety, employee safety requirements; the role of supervisors; management of contractors and labour hire employees. All forklift operators will do refresher training.
The worker with the fire hose, 18 at the time, was prosecuted in August. He pleaded guilty, was convicted and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond. He was ordered to do a Certificate 1 TAFE course in Transport and Storage or another course agreed to by WorkSafe within 12 months.
Forklifts are among the most dangerous machines in Victorian workplaces. They’ve been involved in 56 deaths in Victoria since 1985.
The Director of WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Division, Ross Pilkington, said the penalties should send a clear message to employers and workers to ensure safety standards were maintained.
“Health and safety failings can result in prosecution and convictions which can have serious short and long-term effects, as well as the potential for injury and death.
“Young and inexperienced workers are particularly vulnerable. The young often have a sense that ‘it can’t happen to me’, but the reality is that it can, and does.
“Ensuring they’re properly trained and supervised, and that those superior to them are maintaining safety standards will ensure they get to go home at the end of the day,” Pilkington said.
The charges: 1. Sections 21(1)&(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 — this section relates to the need to provide and maintain a safe workplace as far as practicable. 2. Section 38(1)& (3) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 — this section relates to the need to report certain types of incidents to WorkSafe and the give WorkSafe, (and keep for themselves) a written record of the incident.