Steel company fined after semi-trailer driver falls while unloading

Monday, 13 February, 2017 - 11:00
Industry news


A steel company has been fined $40,000 for failing to ensure safety after a truck driver fell from his trailer while unloading steel at Pinkenba in 2014.

The business did not have adequate work procedures in place for falls from heights, nor the correct work procedures for unloading the steel on site, said Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Dr Simon Blackwood.

“The driver was using a pry bar to separate lengths of steel to be slung for hoisting when the bar slipped, he overbalanced and fell onto the concrete floor, sustaining a fractured coccyx and bruising,” Blackwood said.

“Business operators have a duty of care to everyone at the workplace – not just their own workers.

“In this case the company’s workers were assisting the driver to unload the steel, and some loading and unloading safety procedures were in place, but the risk of falls from height by delivery drivers was not addressed.”

The magistrate noted it took action immediately and was conscientious in rectifying gaps including engaging a safety contractor to oversee processes and procedures.

It entered an early plea and co-operated with the investigation.

In considering sentence, the magistrate also observed the company was coming out of voluntary administration and would effectively be starting business from scratch.

Taking account of those issues and the fact that the incident was not as serious as others involving falls from height, the court fixed the fine at $40,000 and gave the company the benefit of an order that no conviction be recorded.

Blackwood said while driving accidents remain the main cause of injuries and deaths in the transport industry, falls from height are the second most common. In roughly two-thirds of those, the worker was loading or unloading items from the vehicle.

“The risks of these falls are usually to do with the design of a vehicle, the equipment used, and work practices and behaviour,” he said.

“The risks must be identified and controlled by businesses operating in the road transport industry and their supply chains.”