NSW operator convicted for container loading injury

A NSW road and rail transport company has been ordered to pay $90,000 following a shipping container loading incident that injured a worker.

The SafeWork NSW prosecution highlighted the importance of transport operator safeguards around shipping containers.

Crawfords Freightlines Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to a Work Health and Safety Act breach that exposed a worker to serious risk of injury in a 2018 incident.

While carrying out his work, Eddie Asiata was standing beside the shipping container while another was using a forklift to load aluminium billets into a shipping container. The 2.3 tonne load shifted and fell on him pinning him against the shipping container wall.

The then 30-year-old suffered a fractured left femur and fractured right wrist.

Crawfords has for many years been involved in transporting aluminium products in shipping containers destined for overseas customers.

However the business accepted that it did not address the specific risk of prohibiting workers from remaining inside a shipping container while they were placing cardboard between aluminium billets and while forklift trucks were being operated inside the container.

The NSW District court also found company shortcomings in inducting/re-inducting and training/re-training workers in relation to the safe work procedure or method statement when they started work in the Alloy Department, and adequate supervision of workers while they were they working within the Alloy Department.

Following the incident, SafeWork NSW issued an Improvement Notice to Crawfords.

In response, Crawfords has changed its system so packing of short billets into the shipping containers is performed by the forklift operator working alone. That operator was to pack the cardboard, while the forklift was not in operation.

A safety alert was also issued, all employees were re-trained in relation to the amendments made to the Unloading and Package of Aluminium standard operating procedure, and toolbox talks were held in relation to the incident and safety procedures.

Crawfords was found to have taken positive steps to guard against the risk of an incident such as this ever happening again.

It was also heard that Crawfords has shown remorse for the offence and accepted responsibility for its actions.

With an early guilty plea, Crawfords fine was reduced by 25 per cent from an initial $120,000.

Crawfords has been approached for comment.

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