$140,000 fine after steel beams fall on truck driver

A warehouse, storage and transport company has been convicted and fined $140,000 after a truck driver was struck on the head and had both legs crushed by a 1.5 tonne pack of steel beams.


Arrow Worldwide Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last Wednesday after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $6,936.

The court heard that a pack of 12 metre long steel beams fell from a flat top semi-trailer after being loaded by a forklift at the company's West Melbourne warehouse in May 2021 – striking the truck's driver who was standing in the fall shadow.

The beams hit the driver's head, causing a traumatic brain injury, and crushed both of his legs, which were later amputated.

A WorkSafe investigation found it was reasonably practicable for Arrow Worldwide to provide and maintain a system of work that separated pedestrians from moving machinery, required transport drivers to remain in a marked safety zone, and required them to be inducted into the workplace before work began; as well as provide instructions to transport drivers on the system of work.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers had a duty to ensure their actions did not put the health and safety of others in their workplace at risk.

"We know that pedestrians and mobile plant don’t mix and safety or exclusion zones along with workplace inductions for anyone visiting the site are a crucial part of ensuring safety during loading and unloading work," Dr Beer said.

"Tragically, in this case a worker has suffered, horrific, life-changing injuries that could and should have been prevented."

Employers and contractors loading and unloading trucks should ensure:

  • Safe systems of work are in place throughout the delivery and collection process and operators are appropriately trained and competent.
  • The designated loading/unloading area has been assessed and prepared for the activity.
  • A traffic management plan is in place for pedestrians and mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
  • Exclusion zones are established, where possible, around the transport vehicle during the loading and unloading process to prevent persons or vehicles entering the area.
  • Necessary signage, barriers or other equipment are provided and used for traffic management and exclusion zones.
  • An effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff is in place.
  • The transport vehicle is suitable, including traction of the deck material, dimensions and load rating of the deck and ramps, tie down and lashing points, loading or unloading methods, and winching equipment on to and off tilt-trays (if relevant).
  • Machinery and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained by a suitably qualified person.