VIC: abattoir fined $55,000 after worker hit by forklift load

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 5 April, 2022 - 11:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A meat processor in Victoria has been fined after a worker was injured in a forklift incident at a Colac abattoir in 2019.

Australian Lamb (Colac) Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Colac Magistrates’ Court after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of failing, so far as was reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health.

The company was fined $55,000 without conviction.

The court heard that in October 2019, the injured worker was standing at a sorting table in an area of the workplace known as the skin shed, while another worker was operating a forklift nearby.

The forklift driver was elevating a load of sheepskins 4-5 metres high into a drum for salting when the 500-600 kilogram metal basket slipped and fell to the ground, clipping the worker.

He was knocked unconscious and taken to hospital with a broken bone in his spine and damage to a shoulder muscle.

WorkSafe found that there was inadequate information, training and supervision given to workers to ensure they kept a safe distance from elevated loads.

The court heard there was also no formal traffic management plan in place for the skin shed, and no mechanism was provided to secure the metal basket to the forklift.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health snd Safety Narelle Beer said employers must do everything they can to ensure safe work processes, especially when forklifts are involved.

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

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