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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Ignoring practical steps led to death of worker

Maralyn Kastel - Saturday, September 27, 2014

A concrete manufacturer was recently fined by WorkSafe New Zealand for a fatality involving a forklift on its worksite last year. Sadly, this tragic loss of life was preventable if simple safety details had received the appropriate attention. According to a WorkSafe representative, it was an "accident waiting happen." The incident illustrates the importance of site safety for workers on construction sites.

What happened?

In the dark, early morning hours, a 47-year-old worker was run over and killed by a 6.5 tonne telehandler that was being used as a forklift. The incident occurred at an outside work site. This past week, WorkSafe New Zealand convicted the company for violating the Health and Safety in Employment Act because they did not take steps to keep their employee safe. 

"Practicable" Steps

WorkSafe convicted the company of not taking "practicable" steps. A simple safety maintenance schedule and checklist could have saved this employee's life. Consider the steps that should have been taken. 

  • Failure to maintain equipment. The majority of the forklift's lights were not operable, including the headlights, front indicators, brake lights and front hazard lights. The only light on was a flashing orange indicator on the roof of the vehicle. Additionally, the right mirror was missing, the overload buzzer was broken and none of the tyres had the correct pressure. 
  • Inadequate training. The forklift was driven by a trainee that was not qualified to operate that vehicle. He failed to turn on the forklift's field lights. 
  • Poor site lighting. The employer failed to install proper lighting to make the work site safe in dark conditions. 

It's often easy to identify failings after the fact. Few employers intentionally put their employees in danger. However, not enforcing the proper maintenance and safety protocols has tragic consequences. Let The Detail Devils help with your safety strategies. Contact our experts in work health and safety to schedule your assessment.

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