Lack of forklift training leaves worker with amputated leg

A host employer and a labour hire company have been fined a total of AUD$120,000 over an incident which occurred in 2008 left a worker with an amputated leg due to lack of forklift training.

Host employer Beds Plus pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the provision of a safe workplace under a labour hire arrangement and was fined AUD$80,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday 6 May 2011.

Labour hire company Flexi Staff also pleaded guilty to the same charge and was fined AUD$40,000.

The two men were British citizens supplied by Flexi Staff as casual labourers on a working holiday in Australia.

With little training and no qualifications to operate a forklift, in early March one of the men unloaded a sea container and brought the pallet inside the warehouse using a forklift.

He placed the pallet on the top level shelving the forks and mast fully extended.

According to WorkSafe WA, he did not lower the forks and mast before driving towards the warehouse’s roller door, which was raised between five and six metres.

The mast struck the roller door and began to tip over, and the labourer attempted to jump from the falling forklift.

As the forklift fell, the man’s right leg was tapped between the rollover protection structure on the forklift and the concrete floor.

A second forklift was used to lift the forklift from the man’s leg, which was later amputated below the knee.

Acting WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex MuCulloch states this case should serve as a reminder that both labour hire companies and host employers were responsible for ensuring a safe workplace.

“It is apparent that the worker was not given sufficient training and instruction on how to operate a forklift, an item of plant that requires operators to obtain a High Risk Work licence," he said.

“On average, around 180 Western Australian workers are injured in incidents involving forklifts each year, and five WA workers have died in forklift-related incidents since 2004,” said McCulloch.

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