The Department of Labour urges employers to make sure their workers are able to work safely around machinery.

The warning follows the sentencing today of McAlpines Timber Limited today at the Rangiora District Court over an incident involving a forklift in which an employee died in September 2009.

McAlpines Timber Limited was sentenced to pay a fine of $40,130 and reparation totaling $67,200.

McAlpines Timber Limited admitted failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee - specifically, that the employee was not exposed to hazards arising from the use of forklifts in the workplace.

At the time of the accident the employee was supervising the loading of his truck and trailer to ensure that it adhered to Ministry of Transport requirements. He had been walking backwards from the rear of the trailer being loaded probably to gain a better view of the loading of his trailer when he was struck by a forklift.

The Department of Labour Southern Regional Manager, Sheila McBreen-Kerr says that this accident was preventable.

The Department of Labour Christchurch Service Manager, Margaret Radford says that this accident was preventable.

"Employers should take all practicable steps to make sure that employees are safe at work especially where potentially dangerous equipment and vehicles are involved." Ms Radford says. "Forklifts are very useful, but are potentially very dangerous.

"When forklifts are operated in restricted spaces where other people are also working, employers should take particular care to make sure that employees are not harmed".

"The hazards associated with loading and unloading truck and trailers with forklifts including driver safety zones and pedestrian movements in close proximity to forklift operations should not be overlooked".

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