Company fined $60,000 after woman injured in lifter incident

NATIONAL Fleet Administrative Services has pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court to an incident that left a woman with serious injuries and has been fined more than $60,000.

The company admitted guilt for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for a non-National Fleet Administrative Services employee when a lifting device fell onto her from the rear of a truck.

They were fined $60,000 plus $7673 in costs on February 14.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch has condemned the company for a lack of training.

National Fleet Administrative Services employs and contracts drivers who transport goods.

In May 2009 a driver employed by the company was carrying out normal activities transporting mattresses when he was directed to another customer to transport two industrial ovens.

An employee of the customer used a lifting device known as a "walkie stacker" to life the first of the overs off the factory floor and move it onto the tail lift of the truck.

The driver told the customer's employee to put both the walkie stacker and the oven onto the tail lift.

Once the tail lift had been elevated, the customer's employee started to move the walkie stacker into the rear of the truck.

During the process, the walkie stacker began to roll backwards and fell off the rear of the tail lift.

The customer's employee was struck by the walkie stacker as it fell, and it pinned her to the ground, as a result she suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and serious spinal injuries.

It was heard the tail lift of the truck did have roll stop devices fitted, but the driver had not received any training in their use, or the proper use of the tail lift.

He had never used roll stop devices before, and had never placed a walkie stacker on a tail lift.

Commissioner McCulloch said the case highlighted the importance of proper training and strict safe systems of work.

"The court heard that the truck driver had not been trained in the use of either the tail lift of the roll stop devices," Commissioner McCulloch said.

"This turned out to be a recipe for disaster, and the customer's employee needlessly suffered injuries as a result.

"The case should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of training workers in all aspects of operating machinery and having safe systems of work in place at all times, especially when handling heavy items."

For more information on safe systems of work, phone WorkSafe on 1300 307 877 or visit their website.

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