Scrapper fined $95,000 after customer's leg severed
A scrap metal recycler has been convicted and fined $95,000 after a customer's leg was crushed and amputated by a forklift.
Published:02 November 2023
Portland Rusty Scrap Metal Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Warrnambool Magistrates' Court last Friday after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.
The company, which trades as Portland Scrap Metal Recycling, was also ordered to pay $3,028 in costs.
In January 2022 the customer's right leg was amputated when a forklift rolled on to him at his Heywood property, as a worker tried to unload it from a truck.
The court heard a wheel of the forklift had become stuck as the worker reversed it off the truck ramps.
Initially, the worker and customer placed a sleeper beneath the wheel and took turns holding it in place while the other attempted to drive the forklift back up the ramps. When this failed, the worker went to the front of the truck to use a winch, while the customer went to get a car trolley jack.
It is unclear whether the forklift handbrake was on, or how it rolled backwards onto the customer, severing his right leg at mid-thigh level and damaging nerves in his lower back and left leg.
WorkSafe's investigation found the recycler had no safe operating procedures for forklifts, no documented risk assessment or hazard identification forms and no traffic management policies or procedures.
The court heard it was reasonably practicable for the company to reduce the risk by developing and implementing a traffic management plan that includes eliminating the use of powered mobile plant where possible, providing barricades to separate mobile plant, implementing designated loading and unloading zones and/or using a spotter.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the risks of working with mobile plant were well known.
"This incredibly traumatic incident, which has left a man with life-changing injuries, including the complete loss of his leg, should have been avoided," Dr Beer said.
"There's no excuse for not taking appropriate safety measures to reduce the risks to workers and others when working with mobile plant, such as forklifts."
Employers using mobile plant such as forklifts 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 and regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.
Employees and health and safety representatives are consulted about health and safety issues.