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Tragic forklift accident highlights importance of putting safety first
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Tragic forklift accident highlights importance of putting safety first

26 July 2012

A forklift repair job which turned horribly wrong “serves as a warning” to all employers to put safety first when planning for and undertaking hazardous work.

Fowlers Machinery Limited was today fined $44,600 after a worker was trapped under a forklift and killed in September last year.

The Auckland District Court heard that an employee of the company, which hires, sells and repairs forklifts, had been working underneath the 239 tonne forklift repairing its left front brake when the accident happened.

“During the repair, the forklift dropped, trapping the worker underneath. Tragically, he died of asphyxia at the scene,” says northern region health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), John Howard.

“This tragic accident serves as a warning for all employers and their employees tasked with carrying out hazardous work. There is simply no room for complacency,” he says.

“It was this employee’s right to return home safe and well to his loved ones at the end of the working day. And this would have been possible if Fowlers Machinery had in place safe operating procedures for lifting and supporting forklifts, and ensured all workers were trained to follow these.

“A safety first attitude and culture would have prevented this unnecessary fatality. It would have ensured the company used the correct equipment for the job, including appropriate support blocks, wheel chocks, and blocks or chains for securing the elevated mast,” Mr Howard says.


Notes to Editor

  • Fowlers Machinery Limited appeared in the Auckland District Court today.
  • Fowlers Machinery Limited was charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which states:
  • Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
    • (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
    • (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
    • (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
    • (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
      • (i) in their place of work; or
      • (ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
    • (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
  • The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.
  • The Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) website has information about the safe use of forklifts.


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