A Geelong recycling company has been convicted and fined $175,000 following the death of a worker who was struck and run over by a skid steer loader at its Grovedale transfer station.
Retmar Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide a safe working environment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 by failing to eliminate the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians.
It was also ordered to pay $3,580 costs.
The Geelong Magistrates Court heard that on 6 May 2016 a 29-year-old yard hand working at the transfer station was walking back from a pile of waste carrying a sheet of material when he was struck by the skid steer loader as it was reversing.
The man then fell under the machine and was run over. He died at the scene.
The court heard that while Retmar had some safety measures in place at the time of the incident, including instructions for workers to keep certain distances from mobile machinery, these controls were not being monitored or adhered to.
It also heard that Retmar did not have an adequate traffic management plan in place to separate workers from the machine while it was operating, and that workers were allowed to work in and around the machine.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said effective traffic management needed to be a top priority on sites where powered mobile machinery operated.
“Simple warnings and rules about staying away from moving machinery are not enough,” Ms Williams said.
“Zones where machinery will be operating need to be clearly defined, and plans need to be drawn up ahead of time to ensure workers can perform their tasks without having to be in those zones.
“This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if these basic safety measures had been implemented and enforced. Instead, a young man’s life has been cut short and his family left with a lifetime of pain.”
Ms Williams said skid steer loaders were an important workplace tool but their manoeuvrability made them a danger if safety precautions were not followed.
“Traffic management plans need to be formalised and updated as sites change and the areas where mobile machinery operates shifts,” she said.
“Employers need to identify where the risks are, ensure they are controlled, and that appropriate training for machinery operators and other workers is undertaken on a regular basis.”
Safety measures that should be considered include:
• Ensuring workers are provided with appropriate training and supervision.
• Ensuring workers and members of the public (such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists) are isolated and separated from powered machinery and vehicles.
• Ensuring appropriate signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
• Identifying and controlling visibility issues, particularly if lighting is poor (eg. fog, rain, night works).
• Ensuring the machinery is regularly inspected and maintained.
WorkSafe guidance on powered mobile machinery can be found here
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.