Businesses need to keep their workers safe around vehicles and doing so can save lives, says WorkSafe New Zealand following the sentencing of a Southland business today.
McLellan Freight Limited was contracted to load and unload palm kernel extract at a warehouse leased from South Port in Bluff. In turn, McLellan Freight contracted trucks and drivers from Transport Services Southland Limited and Herberts Transport Limited.
One of those drivers was standing behind his truck when he was struck and killed, as another driver was reversing a front-end loader in February 2017.
“Clear separation of workers and moving vehicles is an absolute must in workplaces. Designated safe zones for people, alongside bollards or barriers to control the traffic flow are cost-effective ways to keep safe,” says WorkSafe’s acting national manager of investigations, Catalijne Pille.
A WorkSafe investigation found McLellan Freight should have had a more effective system in place for traffic management and should have consulted with the other trucking firms it worked with to manage the risks.
“Too much emphasis was placed on workers being vigilant, as opposed to businesses managing risks by preventing dangerous situations for workers. More could and should have been done by way of traffic management to ensure a safe system of work,” says Catalijne Pille.
Several measures could have reduced the risk of harm. These include:
- having a dedicated spotter to help guide the driver at all times;
- a stop line or safety cone so drivers know exactly where to stop;
- use of a reversing camera on the loader;
- use of proximity sensors;
- use of blue light indicators on vehicles as appropriate
Following a judge-alone trial in June 2023, McLellan Freight was found guilty of health and safety failures.
Transport Services Southland Limited and Herberts Transport Limited pleaded guilty and were sentenced in October 2022 for their involvement.