Transport company fined $58,000 over crushed hand and lack of licence

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A transport company has been fined a total of $58,000 (and ordered to pay $5542 in costs) after a worker’s hand was crushed between two containers being moved using a forklift.

Mineral Trans (WA) Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee, and was fined $55,000 in the Esperance Magistrates Court on Friday.

In addition, Mineral Trans was fined $3000 for allowing an employee to operate a forklift without holding the appropriate High Risk Work Licence.

In partnership with another entity, Mineral Trans operated a transport business trading as Cranes Haulage.

In August 2014, an employee of Cranes Haulage was driving a truck with two trailers attached, each carrying two empty half-height sea containers that were locked together with twist locks and locked to the trailers.

He drove to the Esperance yard so the containers could be unloaded, and there the company’s General Manager was to unload the containers from the trailers using a forklift.

The truck driver was releasing the twist locks that attached the top container to the bottom one when the top container stuck to the one underneath it.  In the process of separating the two containers, the truck driver’s left hand was crushed between the top and bottom container.

He received severe crush injuries requiring skin grafts and the insertion of pins to repair open fractures, and was left with scarring and continuing pain.

Magistrate Hills-Wright commented that this was an entirely foreseeable incident that was easily avoidable and exposed the worker to a serious risk of harm.  The offence fell in the mid range for seriousness, but there were significant mitigating factors.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said the case illustrated the importance of having safe systems of work in place at all times.

“There was an obvious lack of safe work procedures at the Esperance yard on the day of this incident, particularly procedures for working under suspended loads,” Mr Munns said.

“In the absence of safe procedures, there was potential for the worker’s body parts to be underneath the suspended load of a forklift and for that load to strike or crush those body parts, leading to serious injury.

“A reasonable person in the position of company director should have foreseen this hazard and realised that it was an unsafe system of work to allow an employee to be in close proximity to the suspended load of a forklift.

“The worker should have been prohibited from removing the twist locks from the bottom container until the top container was safely removed from the pedestrian area.”

Mineral Trans was also fined $3000 for allowing an employee to operate a forklift without holding the appropriate High Risk Work Licence.

Subsequent to this incident, Cranes Haulage has ceased the task of separating sea containers and has not resumed that task, and the accused employee has obtained a High Risk Work Licence class LF to operate a forklift.

Further information on workplace safety and health can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)
Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
20 Mar 2018

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