Council workers injured in workplace accidents

TWO hospitalisations within four days have forced Griffith City Council to review its workplace safety practices.

Between late November and early December, a forklift mechanic fractured his ankle and received stitches to the head and a garbage compactor operator was treated in hospital after the machine he was driving rolled on its side.

Only one week before the first accident, another council employee lost his licence on the spot for speeding between Wagga and Griffith.

Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said the actions of the speeding driver were inexcusable whereas neither of the injured employees were at fault.

In reference to the injured forklift mechanic, Mr Stonestreet said outdated working conditions were to blame.

“In order to reach two grease nipples the man turned the wheel of the forklift and the tyre slipped into the pit which caused the forklift to tip over and the fork then cracked him on the head,” he said.

“It could have been a lot worse so we’ve banned any forklifts being serviced for the time being, as there was not enough clearance in the pit.

“I have visited the mechanic at home and he is OK but he will have a lengthy layoff before he returns to work.

“The long-term alternative is that we’re building a new workshop which is long overdue and that will be finished in 10 months.”

Mr Stonestreet said the compactor which rolled at the tip on November 29 was reversing down a slope when the garbage underneath gave way causing the compactor to tip on its side.

“The operator was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure but released straight away,” he said.

“Since the accident we’ve decommissioned the compactor to check the motor which is fine and the safety frame will be inspected on Monday.

“Workcover decided this accident was not reportable but we will make sure the roll frame is OK before it’s back in action although we’re looking into how it happened because it shouldn’t have.” 

Reports of the council worker who lost his licence on November 22 suggested he was clocked at 160km/h, however Mr Stonestreet was unable to confirm the exact speed.

“While I cannot confirm the exact speed I can verify there was excessive speed and the licence was taken on the spot,” he said.

“We’re looking at whether disciplinary action will be taken.

“Fortunately, for the 95% of the time a drivers licence is not required for that particular job, although that will not necessarily exempt the driver from disciplinary action.” 

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