The defendant company held duties under s. 19(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person in charge of a business or undertaking, namely the supply of aftermarket forklift spare parts and accessories. The defendant also serviced and repaired forklifts.
Between 20 July 2014 and 18 August 2014 the defendant company was engaged to remove and replace the top and bottom hooks on a pair of forklift tines. On 18 August 2014 a worker was operating a modified forklift truck with a lifting mechanism. In the process of self-loading the forklift onto the purpose built trailer, the welding on the tines failed. The worker fell onto the roadway from the forklift cabin and sustained injuries including a fractured pelvis, vertebrae damage, soft tissue and neurological injuries.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Richlands Magistrates Court on 29 October 2015 to breaching s. 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
The prosecution submitted the hazard requiring management in this case as inadequacy of welding works performed on forklift tines which were then fitted on a forklift. The work caused the tines to fail and the forklift fell back onto the roadway.
Not ensuring the repair works were adequate verified the gravity of the breach. The defendant was responsible for making good modifications and replacements and failed to do so. There were procedures and processes to follow that were not applied. One approach was to follow manufacturer's specs. Another was to adopt an Australian standard for this specific task.
Magistrate Russell Warfield fined the defendant $35,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1079.40. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate accepted the prosecution submissions about the circumstances that led to the inadequacy of the welds on the tines.
In deciding the penalty, including not recording a conviction, Magistrate Warfield took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of failure of plant modification, obligation holders should consider:
- Dangers in your workplace - forklifts
- Work Place Health and Safety Act 2011
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB).
- Date of offence:
- Pelvic Fracture, soft tissue & neurological injuries
- Richlands Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Russell Warfield
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: