Fonterra prosecuted for unsafe storage

Fonterra Australia has been convicted and fined $300,000 in the Melbourne County Court for unsafe storage

October 18, 2011

Fonterra Australia has been convicted and fined $300,000 in the Melbourne County Court for unsafe storage.

It pleaded guilty to one charge after a forklift driver died at its Stanhope cheese factory when a one-tonne bag of salt fell on him in September 2009.

Judge Frank Gucciardo says the system for stacking bags at Stanhope was unsafe.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Operations Lisa Sturzenegger is calling on businesses to ensure they safely store bulk products and other stock.

Common safety failings involving routine tasks cause the overwhelming majority of workplace injuries and deaths, she adds.

"In this case the bags of salt were delivered and stacked every week. The lesson for others is to understand the potential safety issues, consult with the workforce and fix problems," Sturzenegger says.

"It’s extraordinary how quickly things can change in the workplace so it’s important that regular reviews are carried out and ensure people stay up-to-date.

"When disaster strikes, there’s no going back. Fixing issues after the event is not the solutions. Incidents like this one hit families, businesses and communities hard. They have long-term effects."

WorkSafe found the practice of stacking bulk bags at Stanhope was unsafe because the tops of lower bags were not sufficiently level to safely accommodate those on top.

WorkSafe says the danger was such that if the surface of a bag was not level, even a small disturbing force could cause the stack to topple.

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