Prestige Truck Bodies was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work, so far as was reasonably practicable.
The court heard that in its production process, the Carrum Downs company used fibreglass and particle board panels that arrived at the workplace in shipping containers, packed in a manner that meant they could only be unloaded manually.
In January 2020, five workers, including the manager, were emptying stacks of panels weighing more than 3.5 tonnes in total from a container. The panels had not been securely packed and had become loose in transit.
As the first panel was being removed, several others fell and crushed the manager against the container wall.
The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for Prestige Truck Bodies to have implemented a system of work that required the supplier to pack panels in a manner that would allow them to be unloaded using machinery, such as a forklift, and to return any containers that were not packed in this manner.
In a WorkSafe Victoria media statement, executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer said the risks of removing heavy loads from shipping containers were well known and employers must ensure they have a safe system of work in place.
“Once a load begins to fall, there’s often no opportunity to escape for anyone inside a container, and the consequences are all too often deadly,” Dr Beer said.
“Duty holders should never allow workers to attempt to unload a shipping container that has not been safely packed, and WorkSafe will continue to prosecute those who put workers in harm’s way.”