Unsafe storage has resulted in an industry-wide warning from WorkSafe Victoria after dairy products manufacturer, Fonterra Australia, was recently convicted and fined $300,000 in the Melbourne County Court.
Fonterra Australia appeared before the court over a forklift driver who died after a one-tonne bag of salt fell on him at the company’s Stanhope cheese factory in September 2009.
Judge Frank Gucciardo said the system for stacking bags at Stanhope was unsafe, and noted that it was not until after the man’s death that a safe racking system was put in place and a written procedure developed.
WorkSafe’s investigation found the practice of stacking bulk salt bags at Stanhope was unsafe as the tops of lower bags may not be sufficiently level to safely accommodate those on top.
The danger was such that if the surface of a bag was not level, even a small disturbing force could cause the stack to topple.
Common safety failings involving routine tasks cause the overwhelming majority of workplace injuries and deaths, said WorkSafe Victoria’s general manager for operations, Lisa Sturzenegger
“In this case the bags of salt were delivered and stacked every week. The lesson for others is to understand the potential safety issues, consult with the workforce and fix problems,” she said.
“It’s extraordinary how quickly things can change in the workplace so it’s important that regular reviews are carried out and ensure people stay up-to-date.”