The Australian Postal Corporation (APC) has been fined $160,000 following Comcare action over a forklift incident at the Toowoomba Mail Centre in Queensland three years ago.
In the incident, an APC contractor’s leg was run over by a forklift while he was loading a mail truck for a distribution run, and he subsequently had his right leg amputated below the knee as a result of the incident.
In handing down the fine, Federal Court Justice John Logan said there had been a failure to adequately implement workplace traffic management policies, and he noted that calling the failure systemic would be to camouflage failures by individual employees and managers to enforce existing policies.
Justice Logan found that it was important for APC, a large organisation with numerous workplaces, to foster a culture of enforcement and compliance, and while APC had good intentions in that it recognised the foreseeable risk and developed procedures in order to address it, good practice on the ground was not ensured.
He reiterated that both good intentions and good practice were necessary to ensure compliance with federal work health and safety laws.
The fine was a significant one reflecting the seriousness of the breach, according to Comcare’s general manager of work health and safety, Neil Quarmby.
“It is a tragedy that this accident happened when, with the proper work health and safety procedures in place, it could have been avoided,” he said.
“It certainly is a lesson to all employers of the need to implement proper practices that safeguard all employees in the workplace.”