A court has ordered a national freight company to pay a $300,000 fine after an incident that left a worker with severe leg fractures and sparked an investigation by federal work health and safety regulator Comcare.
The company, K. & S. Freighters, pleaded guilty in the District Court of South Australia to an incident that occurred in 2018 in the company’s freight depot in northern Adelaide.
The injury occurred when workers were manually raising heavy interlocked gates on a truck trailer, with one gate falling on a worker at the freight company.
The court ordered the company to pay a $300,000 fine after entering a guilty plea to breaching the WHS Act, with the offence carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.
Judge Ian Press said there were considerable and foreseeable risks to the drivers and workers in failing to ensure the use of exclusion zones and mechanical lifting of the gates. He also took into account the impact on the victim.
Comcare regulatory operations general manager Justin Napier said the risks involved in the case were obvious.
“The consequences of failing to have a safe system of work in place for this job were potentially fatal,” Napier said.
“The incident was preventable and there were simple remedies available to minimise the risks – using mechanical means to move the gates and establishing an exclusion zone during the operation.”
The company is a self-insured licensee in the Comcare scheme.
The Mandarin reported last year that more than half the employees covered by the federal compensation agency were now outside of the public sector, after a growth in the self-insurance sector.