Wednesday, June 19, 2024

$240k fine a warning for work safety

Better attention to vehicle maintenance would have saved an Auckland freight worker from a serious forklift injury, WorkSafe New Zealand said today.

WorkSafe’s National Manager Investigations, Casey Broad says the $240,000 fine handed down to Refrigafreighters Limited for an incident in September 2022 is a wake-up call to all businesses using forklifts.

Refrigafreighters Limited was sentenced in Manukau District Court earlier this month. Along with the fine, the company was also ordered to pay reparations of $62,279.

“A worker had been collecting rubbish with the forklift. They parked it and put the handbrake on, but when they got out it started to roll down the slope it was parked on,” said Ms Broad.

The 33-year-old tried to recover the forklift but the vehicle tipped onto him and caused serious injuries including a punctured lung and broken back.

“WorkSafe’s investigation verified the forklift hadn’t been maintained and serviced to the standard we’d expect. We asked specialists to take a look and what they found was shocking – there were serious safety issues with the handbrake, to the point it would never have been able to stop the forklift from moving even on a slight incline,” said Ms Broad.

She said the sentence was a reminder for businesses to keep workers safe.

“Businesses must ensure that forklifts and other vehicles and machines are safe to use. If businesses don’t meet their health and safety responsibilities, WorkSafe will hold them to account.”

“A lot of businesses use forklifts, but like any vehicle they need to be serviced and maintained so issues are picked up early and fixed. If you don’t, things can go wrong quickly.”

“Unfortunately there are too many incidents involving forklifts in New Zealand – businesses can do better to keep people safe,” said Ms Broad.

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