Retailer fined $150,000 after plant crushes worker

A major retailer has been fined $150,000 without conviction after a truck driver’s foot was crushed when he was twice run over by a mobile shipping container transporter.


Spotlight Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Werribee Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to failing to ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe.

The court heard that the incident occurred as the driver walked along a marked pedestrian area at the company’s distribution centre at Laverton North.

He was returning to his truck while a shipping container was being unloaded from it by a mobile straddle carrier.

As the carrier moved forward it struck the driver and its front wheel ran over his leg.

A Spotlight employee saw the driver was trapped and signalled to the carrier operator who reversed the transporter back over the driver’s leg.

His left knee was dislocated, ankle broken and foot crushed in the incident, which led to the amputation of a toe.

Spotlight made a number of changes after the incident, including marking out designated loading zones, pedestrian exclusion zones, driver safety zones, and re-marking the pedestrian path.

The court heard the company also decommissioned the carrier and now employs a security officer at the entry point to the loading area to direct truck drivers when they arrive.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was unacceptable to allow pedestrians and mobile plant to operate in a shared space without adequate control measures in place.

"This incident is a terrible example of what can happen when mobile machinery and pedestrian workers mix."

"Unfortunately it is not an isolated example, and there have been many incidents involving machinery and pedestrians where workers have been seriously injured or even killed.

"All employers must ensure machinery and pedestrians are adequately separated and that systems and processes are in place to protect workers at all sites."

Employers using mobile plant should ensure:

  • A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
  • Pedestrians are separated from moving machinery and that an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • Signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
  • Visibility issues are identified and controlled, particularly if lighting is poor.
  • Workers operating equipment have the appropriate high risk work licences, as required.
  • Machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.