$650,000 fine after fatal road safety barrier crush

A road safety equipment manufacturing company in Victoria has been convicted and fined a total of $650,000 after a truck driver was fatally crushed by a falling steel barrier.

The company, Saferoads (trading as Road Safety Rentals) was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to two charges under the Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company was fined $425,000 for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety and a further $225,000 for failing to ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe and without risks to health.

In November 2021, a forklift was being used to unload stacked road safety barriers weighing about 925 kilograms each from a flatbed semi-trailer, when an unrestrained barrier fell from the truck onto the delivery driver, who was standing close by.

The 34-year-old sustained crush injuries to his head and neck and died at the scene.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that while there were standard operating procedures and a safe work method statement (SWMS) prepared for the task, which included the use of a safety zone during loading and unloading, the company did not enforce these procedures and did not provide information to delivery drivers about them.

CCTV footage from the days leading up to the incident, seized during the investigation, showed multiple instances of loading and unloading where people were standing near trucks and in the area forklifts were operating.

It was reasonably practicable for the company to have controlled the risk by ensuring pedestrians were physically separated from mobile plant during loading and unloading and ensuring procedures developed for the work were communicated with delivery drivers and followed.

“What this case sadly highlights is that it’s not enough just to have written procedures in place,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Narelle Beer.

“Employers must also ensure everyone in the workplace is aware of them and that they are being adhered to.”