Car dealership fined $40,000

A Seymour car dealership has been fined $40,000 after a worker suffered skull fractures and bleeding on the brain following an incident involving a forklift.

Beer Motor Car Traders Pty Ltd (BMCT), trading as Neil Beer Seymour, was sentenced without conviction in the Seymour Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to one charge of failing to maintain a safe system of work.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $5,635.

The court heard that during a clean out of a BMCT storage shed in August 2019, a forklift with tyne extensions fitted was used to move a heavy vehicle transmission.

The injured worker was working beneath the suspended transmission attempting to free a jammed tyne extension that was preventing the load being lowered.

After cutting a safety bracket off the tyne extension using an angle grinder, the worker became trapped and felt an increasing pressure against his head.

The worker was treated in hospital for multiple skull fractures, brain bleeding and nerve damage to an eye and eye socket.

A WorkSafe investigation found the tyne extensions were excessively worn and required safety pins had not been fitted, leaving them unable to be used safely.

The extensions had also been mounted incorrectly, which allowed them to move excessively, had no plate stating their maximum load rating and the forklift had not been re-rated for use with tyne extensions.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for BMCT to eliminate or reduce the safety risks by various measures, including by ensuring that only appropriate forklift attachments were used, and by not requiring workers to operate under forklift loads that are suspended and not adequately supported.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the hazards associated with forklifts are well known and employers have no excuse for not protecting workers from these risks.

“Despite numerous reminders and warnings, we unfortunately continue to see a significant number of workplace injuries resulting from the misuse of forklifts,” Dr Beer said.

“Forklifts can be an essential tool on a work site but they can also be an extremely dangerous piece of machinery if risks are not properly assessed and appropriate controls put in place.”

When using forklifts with attachments to move loads, employers must ensure:

  • Forklifts are maintained and used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and operations manuals.
  • The forklift’s load capacity is re-rated to take into account the weight of the attachments, which must be fitted correctly and capacity rated for the required load.
  • The load is properly placed and secured to avoid movement during transport.
  • Information on the capabilities and limitations of forklifts and attachments used in their workplace is provided to employees.
  • Training and instruction is provided in the use of attachments and where to safely operate while moving and securing suspended loads.
  • Forklift operators work in accordance with an appropriate high risk work licence.
  • Employees are not required to operate under suspended loads that are not adequately supported.
  • An up-to-date traffic management plan is in place.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

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