A Sydney transport and warehousing business has been convicted and fined $210,000 after a truck driver lost his leg due to injuries sustained during an unloading incident.
AST Services Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the District Court of New South Wales to a breach of section 19/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers.
The incident occurred in 2019 after heavy steel pipes were bundled onto a contracted truck driver’s flatbed trailer by one of AST’s forklift operators at the company’s previously owned site at Port Botany.
SafeWork NSW reports that while the front of the flatbed trailer had support cradles and stanchions (upright bars, posts or frames that form a type of support or barrier), the rear of the trailer did not have the support cradles or stanchions required to safely transport pipes as recommended by the Load Restraint Guide 2018 published by the National Transport Commission.
Chains had been used to secure the pipes to the trailer and the load was visually inspected by the forklift driver and the truck driver before the allotted cargo was taken to a site at Newcastle.
While the truck driver was removing the chains from the rear passenger side of the trailer’s load, a bundle of three pipes, weighing about 720 kilograms, fell and seriously injured the truck driver.
The court heard that the man sustained concussion and crush injuries to both legs, necessitating the amputation of the right leg below the knee. Reconstructive surgery and skin grafts were required for the driver’s left leg.
It was also heard that AST Services Pty Ltd was a good corporate citizen, had work plans in place at the time of the incident and has demonstrated remorse. The business has subsequently ceased transporting pipes and substantially downsized its operations.