Record safety prosecution fine of $1m – traffic management


Posted By on 21/12/16 at 8:36 AM

On 14 December 2016, the highest safety fine for a single OHS offence in Victoria was delivered to Toll Transport in the County Court of Victoria. It involved Toll’s shipping service at Webb Dock in Port Melbourne.

Background

In 2014, a Toll stevedore was run over by a flat trailer and died. A flat trailer transports shipping containers which are pushed or pulled by prime movers on ramps to load ships at the dock.

A prime mover driver pushed a flat trailer towards a stevedore who was positioning rubber mats for the flat trailer. He was wearing a hi-visability vest and using earplugs. There was no spotter stevedore to direct the prime mover and watch for pedestrians (as required by procedure). The stevedore was struck and crushed under the wheels. His leg was amputated by the trailer and he suffered severe fatal injuries.

Toll pleaded guilty to breaching s21 of the OHS Act 2004 (Vic) in failing to maintain a safe system of work and was fined $1 million.

Takeaways

The case is directly applicable to all businesses where there is vehicle and pedestrian interaction – including even where you only have a visitor car park. Pedestrian and driver protection zones are essential, as are procedures for traffic management to separate so far as is possible any interactions where they must occur (eg. as was the case here where there were unloading operations).

While the sentencing reasons are not yet publicly available, we very much anticipate that comments will have been directed towards the fact that it is one thing to have a procedure, but it is entirely another to make sure it is supervised and enforced. What is often misunderstood is that supervision is not a question of practicable steps, but is an absolute duty.

KHQ Lawyers - Gina Capasso

Gina Capasso Principal Solicitor

Gina has longstanding experience in workplace health and safety, industrial relations and employment law and joined KHQ Lawyers having come from multinational top tier and national firms in Australia.

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