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Zammit Ham convicted of safety breach after employee sustained serious injury

A NSW meat company has been convicted and fined $75,000 for breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after an employee sustained serious injury on site.

Zammit Ham & Bacon Curers Pty Ltd, an award-winning and family-owned business, pleaded guilty to contravening the Act after an incident involving a forklift at its Pendle Hill worksite in September 2017.

The worker was carrying a pallet of processed meat to the loading dock using the forklift, and while reversing and preparing to turn, a wheel fell off the edge of the loading dock and onto the concrete ramp, causing the forklift to topple over.

The worker, who was not wearing the fitted seatbelt, fell forward and became trapped between the ramp’s surface and the forklift. He was pulled free with an excavator and transported to hospital where he underwent surgery.

“Under section 19(1) of the Act, the defendant had a duty to ensure the health and safety of its workers and was charged with a failure to comply with this duty,” the Department of Customer Service said in a statement.

The case found that the primary reason for the incident was the lack of a physical barrier. The day after the incident, the defendant installed a guardrail along the edge of the loading dock.

“The defendant had a number of work health and safety policies involving discussions and toolbox talks, so it should have been able to eliminate or control the risks associated with the operation of forklifts near an unprotected edge at the site,” Valerie Griswold, executive director of investigations and enforcement at NSW Fair Trading Operations, said.

“While the forklifts were fitted with seatbelts, and personal protective equipment was issued to the workers, the defendant had no documented procedures, policies or traffic plans in place regarding the safe operation of forklifts.”

Griswold also pointed to a lack of adequate training and supervision.

“The defendant failed to provide adequate information or instruction to workers in regard to safe operation of the forklift, and also failed to properly supervise the drivers to ensure they were operating the forklifts safely,” Griswold added.

Inside FMCG has contacted Zammit Ham & Bacon Curers for comment. The company has the right to appeal the sentence.

SafeWork said it is currently investigating several recent forklift incidents, including an incident on March 11 where a forklift rolled forward onto its driver at a workplace in Marrickville and another on May 5, where a 31-one-year old man was killed in an incident at Chipping Norton.

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