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Hefty fines over forklift accident
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Hefty fines over forklift accident

19 August 2014

Three companies have been fined a total of almost $120,000 dollars and ordered to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift at a kiwifruit pack house at Mount Maunganui.

Erica Machado, 33, suffered a fractured ankle which required pins inserted in it as well as a large laceration to one of her legs in the May 2013 accident. She had been straightening rows of boxes in an area of the pack house designated for the assembly of kiwifruit packaging trays when the forklift backed into her.

The company that employed her, LRK Trays Limited, the pack house operator and employer of the forklift driver Mount Pack and Cool Limited, and the company that supplied the kiwifruit trays, Orora Packaging Limited (formerly Amcor Packaging (NZ) Ltd) were all convicted under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that she was not harmed at work.

The Tauranga District Court yesterday fined the companies $39,375 each. The $20,000 in reparation was split evenly between the three companies.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief investigator Keith Stewart says the companies failed to put in place proper workplace rules to manage the risk posed by forklifts to workers on foot.

“This incident could have been easily avoided if a barrier had been put in place to prevent the forklift from moving into the tray makers’ area.

“Without proper barriers or some form of isolation an accident such as this was sadly predictable. All three companies should have done more to ensure that forklifts were kept well away from the area Ms Machado was working in,” says Keith Stewart.

NOTE: Orora Packaging had a contract with LRK Trays for the labour to assemble the kiwifruit trays using Orora machines at the Mount Pack and Cool Limited pack house.

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