A Hillston potato farm has been fined $187,500 after a truck driver died when he was run over by a forklift at the farm in December 2013.

Oakville Produce Pty Ltd was charged under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 with a breach of its duty under section 19(1) of the Act for failing to have a traffic management plan and providing a forklift with adequate visibility.

On 16 December 2013 the 57 year old truck driver, a forklift driver and a harvest supervisor were performing harvesting work at Oakville Produce Pty Ltd’s potato farm on Kidman Way, Hillston.

The truck driver and harvest supervisor were discussing work arrangements for the rest of the day when the forklift driver collected two empty bins from the trailer on the truck driver’s truck.

The truck driver and harvest supervisor then walked towards another truck which was going to be used during harvesting.

The forklift driver then reversed his forklift, which had a blind spot, and struck the truck driver and harvest supervisor. The harvest supervisor was uninjured in the incident but the truck driver died as a result of his injuries.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the incident could have been prevented had an effective traffic management plan been in place.

“Forklifts are a major cause of death and injury in NSW workplaces,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Between July 2012 and July 2014, 1,360 workers were injured in forklift incidents, including five fatalities, at a cost of $15.8 million to the NSW workers compensation scheme.

“Despite the inherent dangers, incidents can be prevented.

“The best way to do this is to separate pedestrians and forklifts with barriers and have a traffic management plan with rules about how and where vehicles should be operated.

“In this particular incident, Oakville Produce Pty Ltd did not have a traffic management plan for the loading and unloading of forklifts in bin bay areas.

“They also failed to provide a forklift without blind spots or sufficient mirrors that addressed blind spots.

“This incident serves as a reminder to the agriculture industry of the importance of effective traffic management systems and I urge all agriculture businesses to develop one before there is a pedestrian injury or death at their workplace.”

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