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Failing to comply with safety notice costs metal company $11,000

Phil Fehring Engineering of Rochester in Victoria has been fined $11,000 for failing to comply with three counts of safety Improvement Notices relating to forklift safety.

Phil Fehring Engineering pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates Court this week to the three counts, which were issued in 2006.

The company’s director, Phil Fehring, said in court that it had been incorrectly advised by a consultant. It failed to comply with three Improvement Notices from 2006, which required operator restraints to be retrofitted in its forklifts.

The company contested the validity of the notices through WorkSafe Victoria’s internal review process and then took one notice to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which endorsed WorkSafe’s authority to issue them.

The seatbelts were only fitted to the forklifts days before the court case, costing around $730 each.

According to WorkSafe Victoria, of the 56 forklift-related deaths since 1985, 11 were forklift operators who were crushed by the machine in a tip-over when they were thrown from, or jumped, from their seat.

Australian Standards have required operator restrains on new forklifts since 1995. WorkSafe Victoria has been urging employers to retrofit seatbelts on all forklifts manufactured before 1995 where reasonably practicable.

WorkSafe Victoria says although companies can contest safety Improvement Notices, it will prosecute for non-compliance if the companies still do not comply after the contests are thrown out.

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