A mid-North Coast meat processing business has been fined $375,000 over the death of a worker at its Frederickton plant in 2015.

The 28 year old worker died after he became pinned between a steel bin that was being carried by a forklift and a wall on 4 August 2015.

The incident occurred when the man, who was employed to undertake meat rendering and general plant duties at Macleay River Protein Pty Ltd’s processing plant on Collombatti Road, Frederickton, was using a forklift to remove empty steel bins from the rendering plant.

At the time of the incident, the worker was not licensed to operate a forklift and was not being supervised by a licensed forklift driver. After moving a steel bin to a wall, the worker stopped the forklift on a sloping incline and applied the handbrake, but did not chock the wheels.  He then walked between the front of the forklift and the wall, pushing and kicking the bin in an attempt to close the bin’s door. The forklift’s handbrake suddenly released, pinning the man between the bin and the wall, causing fatal injuries.

Macleay River Protein Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to a charge under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to comply with its duty under section 19(1) of the Act and was fined $375,000 in the District Court.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the risk of serious injury or death was obvious but Macleay River Protein Pty Ltd’s work health and safety systems were inadequate.

“This incident was not caused by a momentary lapse, rather, it was a result of an absence of adequate work health and safety systems and could have been prevented with a few simple safety measures,” Mr Dunphy said.

“These include providing workers with instruction and training in the safe use of forklifts as well as wheel chocks, and providing wheel chocks on forklifts to prevent unintended movement.

“Other steps include implementing and enforcing a key register to restrict the use of forklifts to licensed operators only.

“Trainee forklift drivers should be supervised by a licensed driver and a risk assessment on the parking of forklifts on inclines should be undertaken which includes the risk of workers walking between a forklift and structure.

“As a result of this totally preventable incident, a young family has lost its father and a small community has been left devastated.”

Macleay River Protein Pty Ltd has 28 days to file an appeal.

For more information, visit our forklift safety page or call 13 10 50.

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