Forklift tragedy leads to $375,000 fine

A freight company was convicted and fined $375,000 over the death of a worker who was crushed by a 635kg computer server that fell off a forklift at its Laverton North depot.
News article published

Monday 24 Dec 2012

Industries and topics
  • Transport, logistics and warehousing
  • Forklifts

AirRoad Pty Ltd, which had pleaded guilty on December 3 to failing to provide a safe system of work, was sentenced last week in Melbourne County Court.

The court heard that on 12 January 2010, the worker died when the computer server fell on him as it was being unloaded.

The man was helping the forklift driver manoeuvre the forklift tines under the server so it could be lifted off the truck.

As the forklift lifted it and reversed away, the man remained standing next to the server. It began to move and he lunged forward in an attempt to stabilise it.

It fell on him, crushing his chest, and he died at the scene.

The court heard that a number of factors may have contributed to the server unbalancing. Components inside the server were unevenly distributed, a strong wind was blowing at the time, and the forklift was on slightly sloping ground.

The court was told that the company had failed to enforce an exclusion zone as oversized freight was being unloaded from a truck. While it had a safety policy that required all staff to be at least two metres from working forklifts, the company had no written record that the man had been told of the requirement.

WorkSafe’s general manager of health and safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said forklifts were a major contributor to deaths and serious injuries in Victorian workplaces.

“Forklifts and people working close by simply don’t mix. A traffic management plan incorporating physical separation of forklifts and people is essential.” she said.

More information on forklift safety can be found at: