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Carrier fined $30k after driver crushed in accident

Spectrum Transport fined $30,000 after waste bale falls on truck driver, crushing him

By Brad Gardner | November 26, 2009

Spectrum Transport Systems has been convicted and fined for failing to provide proper training to a driver, who suffered multiple fractures when a waste bale fell on him.

The South Australian Magistrates Court was told driver John Pring’s pelvis, knee and vertebrae were fractured in the incident which happened at the site of Spectrum’s client, Integrated Waste Services.

The court heard Pring was sweeping debris from the trailer when one of the compacted rubbish bales from an unstable stack fell on him. Each bale weighed between 600 to 950kg.

Pring was only given one day of training before beginning work and was told by a co-worker to start sweeping before the trailer was emptied and then stand aside when a grab loader collected another stack.

Magistrate Michael Ardlie says the training was insufficient and that the company should have prohibited sweeping during unloading and loading because it knew there was a risk of an accident.

“In my view the instruction, training and supervision was inadequate given the defendant’s apparent knowledge of the instability of the bales and the likelihood that in the unloading process bales could fall either off the trailer or down onto the trailer,” Ardlie says.

The trucking operator pleaded guilty to breaching the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act and was ordered to pay $30,685.

Although Waste Integrated Services required drivers to sweep while the unloading process was going on, Ardlie says Spectrum had a responsibility to the driver.

“Its direct obligation was to the employee and it should have overridden the requirement laid down by IWS with respect to sweeping whilst unloading was still taking place,” he says.

“The instability of the stack of bales stacked three high and the fact that each bale weighed between 600-950kg created a risk of potentially fatally injury if a bale fell and landed on a person or persons working in proximity.”

Following the incident, the waste company and Spectrum altered their policies by mandating that no drivers were to sweep trailers while bales were being loaded or unloaded.

The two companies that ran Waste Integrated Services, Acquista Investments and Collex, were fined and convicted in December last year after pleading guilty to breaching the Act.

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