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Transport company fined $220,000 for workplace injury

Forklift accident involving truck driver results in huge fine for Tamex Transport


Freight transport company Tamex Transport has been fined $220,000 fine for a workplace accident that resulted in serious injuries to a truck driver at its Beresfield depot three years ago.

The incident took place on February 28, 2014 when a truckie was struck in the head by the door of a freight cage that dislodged and fell while being removed from the trailer by a forklift.

The driver sustained serious injuries including depressed skull fracture and brain injury that resulted in ongoing deficits of higher cognitive functions, deafness in right ear, and dental and lower back injuries.

Last month, the District Court of New South Wales found the company guilty of failing to have an effective traffic management plan (TMP) at the site under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The court ruled that the company was aware of the risk of such accidents under the safe work rules such as loading, unloading exclusion zone (LUEZ) guidelines that call for, among other things:

  • segregation of loading and unloading equipment and pedestrians, including drivers
  • loading and unloading activity to be immediately stopped if a pedestrian ceases to be in direct line of sight of the forklift operator.

The court notes that while the company did adopt a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS), relevant employees were “not trained on the existence of the 2010 SWMS and its requirements were not enforced at the depot prior to the incident”.

The court also points out that the company did not ensure there was a 5m pedestrian exclusion zone around an operating forklift at the site.

However, owning to mitigating factors such as the company’s previous clean record, its “good character”, cooperation demonstrated with the SafeWork investigation, and steps taken to enforce workplace safety rules prior to and following the incident, Tamex managed to escape a much larger fine.

The maximum penalty for such offences is $1.5 million.                 

Under the Fines Act 1996 rules, the company will have to pay $82,000 to the court before 28 days.

The court acknowledges Tamex Transport’s continuous efforts to make “improvements” on safety and training since the 2014 incident.

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