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Inadequate safe work procedures cost company $39,000

Scrap metal business Trading Metals Pty Ltd has received a conviction and been fined $39,000 plus court costs in the Industrial Magistrates Court after a worker’s finger was crushed while he was helping load pallets on a trailer. On 27 March 2014, the worker, an employee of Keeforce Services Pty Ltd, was at the Dry Creek premises of Trading Metals Pty Ltd to load pallets of recycled batteries onto the trailers of his B-double truck. The loading was performed by two forklifts. The worker assisted by standing near the truck to move the trailer’s curtains and gates, but his finger became caught and was crushed between a pallet and the trailer’s railing. The injured part of his finger required amputation.

Inadequate safe work procedures cost company $39,000

The magistrate found that Trading Metals Pty Ltd had failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work to protect workers while loading and unloading trucks, and had also failed to provide instruction to visiting truck drivers. The forklifts were not operated within an exclusion zone, and so the drivers could not always see the injured worker.

The magistrate noted that at the time of the incident, Trading Metals Pty Ltd had a system of work for loading and unloading of trucks but it was not sufficiently developed or enforced and did not meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA). The magistrate imposed a fine of $65,000 but reduced it by 40 per cent in consideration of an early guilty plea.

Trading Metals Pty Ltd had also demonstrated its awareness of its work health and safety responsibilities and had begun to undertake significant work to improve safety at its premises prior to the incident. SafeWork SA Acting Executive Director Dini Soulio today reminded employers of the importance of implementing formal and rigorous safe systems of work. “As a body corporate, Trading Metals Pty Ltd faced a maximum fine of $1,500,000,” Mr Soulio said. “It’s simply luck that the worker did not suffer more serious injuries considering his proximity to the forklifts in operation.” “This is a reminder for businesses that it is not acceptable to have systems of work which are informal, incomplete or unenforced. Poor systems of work will not prevent injury, and prevention is always preferable to prosecution,” he said.

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