Plaster company to spend $480,000 after forklift injury

A building material supplier has committed to spend more than $480,000 to improve health and safety outcomes after an incident at a Pascoe Vale warehouse.


On Wednesday 27 March, the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court heard Bell Plaster Supplies Pty Ltd had entered into an Enforceable Undertaking while facing a single charge of failing to reduce the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians.

WorkSafe may reinstate the charge if the undertaking is contravened or withdrawn.

In April 2022, a worker was struck by a reversing forklift resulting in an open wound fracture on his right foot which required multiple surgeries.

WorkSafe alleged it was reasonably practicable for Bell Plaster Supplies to have ensured a fully implemented traffic management plan was in place; there were designated forklift and pedestrian zones and a temporary exclusion zone around operating forklifts; spotters were used as necessary; speed limit signs were erected; and that all forklifts were subject to daily inspections and ongoing maintenance.

The estimated $480,509 undertaking requires the company to:

  • Employ an Occupational Health and Safety Manager on an ongoing full time basis.
  • Engage a third party for a period of 36 months to provide services including OHS audits, review and development of policies and procedures, and HR support.
  • Donate $10,000 to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety.
  • Commence a safety campaign, involving the distribution of brochures to all premises, both business and residential, within a five kilometre radius of the workplace.
  • Enter into a sponsorship agreement with the Bachar Houli Foundation to organise pre-workforce seminars that prepare youth on safe work practices.
  • Install safety sensors that will sound an alarm when a pedestrian is within eight metres of the rear of any forklift at the workplace.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers must do everything they can to ensure mobile plant such as forklifts are operating safely.

"Forklifts are among the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths in Victorian workplaces," Dr Beer said.

"Even an incident involving a slow-moving forklift can have serious consequences."

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.