Plaster company to spend $480,000 after forklift injury

A building material supplier in Victoria has committed to spend more than $480,000 as part of an enforceable undertaking to improve health and safety outcomes after an incident at a Pascoe Vale warehouse.

Bell Plaster Supplies entered into the enforceable undertaking while facing a single charge of failing to reduce the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians.

WorkSafe Victoria said it may reinstate the charge if the undertaking is contravened or withdrawn.

In April 2022, a worker was struck by a reversing forklift resulting in an open wound fracture on his right foot which required multiple surgeries.

WorkSafe alleged it was reasonably practicable for Bell Plaster Supplies to have ensured a fully implemented traffic management plan was in place; there were designated forklift and pedestrian zones and a temporary exclusion zone around operating forklifts; spotters were used as necessary; speed limit signs were erected; and that all forklifts were subject to daily inspections and ongoing maintenance.

The estimated $480,509 undertaking requires the company to:

  • Employ an OHS manager on an ongoing full-time basis.
  • Engage a third party for a period of 36 months to provide services including OHS audits, review and development of policies and procedures, and HR support.
  • Donate $10,000 to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety to go to the development of the OHS Body of Knowledge.
  • Commence a safety campaign, involving the distribution of brochures to all premises, both business and residential, within a five-kilometre radius of the workplace.
  • Enter into a sponsorship agreement with the Bachar Houli Foundation to organise pre-workforce seminars that prepare youth on safe work practices.
  • Install safety sensors that will sound an alarm when a pedestrian is within eight metres of the rear of any forklift at the workplace.

“Forklifts are among the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths in Victorian workplaces,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Narelle Beer.

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