Company faces almost half a million dollars in penalty for work-vehicle tragedy

Cautionary tale reminds employers of work-related vehicle risks

Company faces almost half a million dollars in penalty for work-vehicle tragedy

A company faces almost half a million dollars in fines for failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its workers. Learn about proper management of work-related vehicle risks to minimise hazardous conditions for employees.

The case against the company sprung from a tragedy in May 2018 when its company truck driver died from a vehicular incident. He died when the vehicle rolled onto its side during travel.

On Wednesday, Peter Stoitse Transport Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Latrobe Valley County Court and was fined $300,000 for “failing to provide a safe system of work” and $150,000 for “failing to provide information, instruction or training.”

According to a media release from WorkSafe Victoria (WSV), investigators found that the company “had failed to provide its drivers with detailed information, instruction or supervised training” in driving the said company vehicles that were carrying dynamic loads.

The court also found from another inspection that some of the company’s vehicles had major defect notices. A few even required them to be taken off the road immediately.

“It was reasonably practicable for [the employer] to ensure their drivers were properly trained and to adopt a safe system of work to ensure their [company vehicles] were maintained in a safe mechanical condition,” WSV said.

“Any vehicle used by a worker as part of their job is considered to be a workplace, and employers, therefore, have a duty to ensure they are kept in a condition that is safe and without risks to health,” WSV executive director health and safety Narelle Beer said ina statement.

According to WSV, employers should manage work-related vehicle risks with the following measures:

  • Ensure appropriate safe systems of work are in place and that these are regularly monitored, reviewed and, if necessary, revised.
  • Ensure regular vehicle inspections, servicing and maintenance are undertaken by suitably competent persons in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Ensure pre-operations checks are conducted daily on essential components such as brakes, steering, tyres (including pressure), indicators, oil leaks and suspension and have defects rectified by competent persons.
  • Not allow untrained, unlicensed or inexperienced people to operate vehicles.
  • Implement a system to ensure people are competent to conduct the work - this should include instructions, information about the work, mentoring and assessment, toolbox training and refresher training even for experienced employees.
  • Establish appropriate rules and standards for safe road use (including speed limits for travel and manoeuvres) taking into account any load factor of a vehicle, including movement of liquid and its effect on the stability of a vehicle, increased breaking distances due to the surge of liquid within a tank and changing environments and conditions.
  • Communicate all safety information to drivers and others (eg load information for those responsible for loading and driving vehicles) to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

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