A Sydney transport and warehousing business has been convicted and fined $210,000 after heavy steel pipes fell from the back of a flatbed trailer and severed part of a contracted truck driver’s leg in 2019.
AST Services Pty Ltd (ACN 108 762 563)* entered a plea of guilty in the District Court of New South Wales to a breach of section 19/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers.
The court heard the incident occurred after heavy steel pipes were bundled onto a contracted truck driver’s flatbed trailer by one of AST’s forklift operators at the company’s previously owned site at Port Botany.
While the front of the flatbed trailer had support cradles and stanchions (upright bars, posts or frames that form a type of support or barrier), the rear of the trailer did not have the support cradles or stanchions required to safely transport pipes as recommended by the Load Restraint Guide 2018 published by the National Transport Commission.
Chains were used to secure the pipes to the trailer and the load was visually inspected by the forklift driver and the truck driver before the allotted cargo was taken to a site in Newcastle.
While the truck driver was removing chains from the rear passenger side of the trailer’s load, a bundle of three pipes weighing about 720 kilograms fell and seriously injured the truck driver.
The court heard that the man sustained concussion and crush injuries to both legs, necessitating the amputation of the right leg below the knee. Reconstructive surgery and skin grafts were required for the driver’s left leg.
The court heard that AST Services Pty Ltd was a good corporate citizen, had work plans in place at the time of the incident and has demonstrated remorse. The business has subsequently ceased transporting pipes and substantially downsized its operations.
AST Services Pty Ltd has a right to appeal the sentence.
Department of Customer Service BRD Investigations and Enforcement Executive Director Valerie Griswold said safety must be improved on work sites across New South Wales to reduce injuries.
“SafeWork NSW has a wealth of resources available to support businesses and employees,” Ms Griswold said.
“We encourage people to take a moment, visit our website and find out what improvements might be made and what they may apply for.”
Eligible small business owners in New South Wales including contractors may apply for a $1000 rebate to purchase safety items. The rebate may be used to purchase safety equipment for trucks. You can find out more about the rebate program.
View information tailored for the transport and warehousing industry. This includes information for road freight transport operators and their supply chains.
Read the Guide to Work Health and Safety in the Transport Industry.
Court’s published decision – SafeWork NSW v AST Services Pty Ltd
*Source: Australian Securities and Investments Commission Registers
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