Mineral Trans fined for Cranes driver injury

Crushed hand and lack of licence costs transport company $58,000 in WA

Mineral Trans fined for Cranes driver injury
Ian Munns says the case illustrates the importance of having safe systems in place


A transport company has been fined a total of $58,000 plus $5,542 in costs after a worker’s hand was crushed between two containers being moved using a forklift, WorkSafe WA reports.

Mineral Trans (WA) Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee, and was fined $55,000 in the Esperance Magistrates Court on Friday.

In addition, Mineral Trans was fined $3,000 for allowing an employee to operate a forklift without holding the appropriate High Risk Work Licence.

In partnership with another entity, Mineral Trans operated a transport business trading as Cranes Haulage.

In August 2014, an employee of Cranes Haulage was driving a two-trailer combination, each carrying two empty half-height sea containers that were locked together with twist locks and locked to the trailers.

The truck driver drove to the Esperance yard so the containers could be unloaded, and there the company’s general manager was to unload the containers from the trailers using a forklift.

The truck driver was releasing the twist locks that attached the top container to the bottom one when the top container stuck to the one beneath it.

In the process of separating the two containers, the truck driver’s left hand was crushed between the top and bottom container.

He received severe crush injuries requiring skin grafts and the insertion of pins to repair open fractures, and was left with scarring and continuing pain.

Magistrate Adam Hills-Wright commented that this was an entirely foreseeable incident that was easily avoidable and exposed the worker to a serious risk of harm, WorkSafe WA says. 

The offence fell in the mid-range for seriousness, but there were significant mitigating factors.

In WorkSafe WA commissioner Ian Munns’ view, the case illustrated the importance of having safe systems of work in place at all times.

"There was an obvious lack of safe work procedures at the Esperance yard on the day of this incident, particularly procedures for working under suspended loads," Munns says.

"In the absence of safe procedures, there was potential for the worker’s body parts to be underneath the suspended load of a forklift and for that load to strike or crush those body parts, leading to serious injury.

"A reasonable person in the position of company director should have foreseen this hazard and realised that it was an unsafe system of work to allow an employee to be in close proximity to the suspended load of a forklift.

"The worker should have been prohibited from removing the twist locks from the bottom container until the top container was safely removed from the pedestrian area."

Cranes Haulage has since ceased the task of separating sea containers and has not resumed that task, and the accused employee has obtained a High Risk Work Licence class LF to operate a forklift.


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