Freight service company fined $110,000 for serious injury to worker
A ground and air cargo services company has been fined $110,000 (and ordered to pay $8,000 in costs) for an incident in which a baggage handler was seriously injured when he fell from a Baggage tug in motion at Perth airport.
Swissport Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing serious injury to a worker, and was fined by the court on Wednesday. Perth Trial.
In August 2018, the injured worker was carrying out baggage unloading duties from a Virgin Australia Airlines plane which had just landed, when another Swissport employee passed by him on a baggage tug.
He boarded the vehicle as a passenger and after driving a short distance, the driver turned the tug and he fell sideways onto the tarmac, hitting his head on the ground. The vehicle was not equipped with a passenger seat belt.
The worker suffered serious head injuries and required urgent surgery, followed by more urgent surgeries later due to complications from his injuries. He also suffered from ongoing medical issues requiring physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh today said the case was another example of an organization failing to carry out adequate risk assessments or take action to ameliorate or eliminate on-site risks of work.
“The vehicle the worker fell from did not have a seat belt for a passenger and workers were allowed to get into it,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“After this incident, the airport manager and the ramp manager of Swissport confirmed that, had a risk assessment been carried out, the tug involved in the incident would not have been in service until the belt a passenger safety device would not have been installed.
“Furthermore, Swissport’s own written procedures and Virgin’s procedures for Swissport prior to this incident stated that seat belts should be worn ‘when fitted’, but did not prohibit driving or riding on a tug. which was not equipped with seat belts.
“The tug driver and the injured passenger assumed the vehicle had been deemed as safe as it was in use. No instructions were given to carry out checks before the baggage tugs started.
“The circumstances of this incident indicate that Swissport has failed to provide a safe and healthy working environment for its workers, and the company has been penalized accordingly.
“The case should serve as a warning to other businesses that thorough risk assessments are the primary component of providing and maintaining a safe workplace, as required by state workplace laws. workplace safety.
“With the restart of air transport services in full swing, occupational health and safety is particularly crucial.”
Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd was also charged with the incident. The company has pleaded not guilty and will be tried in August.