Accident costs firms $138,000

By Rebecca Savory, Amy McGillivray

Mount Pack and Cool  is one of three companies fined a total of almost $120,000  and ordered to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift. Photo / John Borren
Mount Pack and Cool is one of three companies fined a total of almost $120,000 and ordered to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift. Photo / John Borren

Three companies have been fined a total of almost $120,000 and ordered to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift at a kiwifruit pack house at Mount Maunganui.

Erica Machado, 33, suffered a fractured ankle which required pins to mend it, as well as a large laceration to one of her legs in the May 2013 accident.

She had been straightening rows of boxes in an area of the pack house designated for the assembly of kiwifruit packaging trays when the forklift backed into her.

The company that employed her, LRK Trays, the pack house operator and employer of the forklift driver Mount Pack and Cool and the company that supplied the kiwifruit trays, Orora Packaging (formerly Amcor Packaging NZ) were all convicted under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that she was not harmed at work.

Tauranga District Court fined the companies $39,375 each on Monday.

The $20,000 in reparation was split evenly between the three companies.

WorkSafe New Zealand's chief investigator Keith Stewart said the companies failed to put in place proper workplace rules to manage the risk posed by forklifts to workers.

"This incident could have been easily avoided if a barrier had been put in place to prevent the forklift from moving into the tray makers' area.

"Without proper barriers or some form of isolation an accident such as this was sadly predictable.

"All three companies should have done more to ensure that forklifts were kept well away from the area Ms Machado was working in."

LRK Trays owner and director Luke Kenealy said a lot of work had been done with health and safety, traffic management plans and standard operating procedures for forklifts since the incident.

"In 90 per cent of the places we work we now have barriers," he said.

It was a large fine for a small company to pay but he accepted the judge's decision.

"It's an eye opener for small businesses operating on someone else's premises that you are fully responsible for your employees."

A spokeswoman for Orora Packaging said the company, which supplied the boxes the fruit were being packed into at the time of the accident, accepted it was involved and could have done better even though they were a couple of steps removed from the operations.

How much

LRK Trays: $39,375 fine plus $6,666 reparation

Mount Pack and Cool: $39,375 fine plus $6,666 reparation

Orora Packaging: $39,375 fine plus $6,666 reparation

Total: $118,125 in fines and $20,000 reparation

- Bay of Plenty Times

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