Trade Depot fined after customer struck by forklift had leg amputated

Inventory levels have been kept high adding to costs when warehouses fill up and new storage is...
Trade Depot Limited was sentenced at Manukau District Court yesterday. File photo: Getty Images
Trade Depot has been ordered to pay almost $500,000 in fines and reparations after a customer was struck by a forklift and had to have her lower leg amputated.

WorkSafe said the 68-year-old woman was waiting to collect whiteware from the customer collections area at Trade Depot’s Onehunga site when she was struck by a forklift in 2022.

She was rushed to hospital with injuries so severe her left leg had to be amputated below the knee.

WorkSafe charged Trade Depot after finding it had no effective traffic management plan to ensure moving vehicles and pedestrians were kept separate.

Investigators also found the lights on the forklift were not functioning at the time of the incident.

Trade Depot Limited was sentenced at Manukau District Court yesterday. The company was fined $350,000 and ordered to pay $141,502 in reparations.

WorkSafe’s area investigation manager Paul West said it was only by sheer luck that a serious injury or death was not caused before this incident.

"Forklifts were moving in and around pedestrians, delivering goods on a daily basis, but the site lacked any adequate systems to manage the risk of interaction between forklifts and pedestrians in the customer collections area."

Measures like one-way systems, barriers, designated crossing points, speed bumps, or signage could have prevented this unfortunate injury, West said.

"All businesses whose work requires traffic management should take notice of this case to ensure they aren’t falling short."

Following the incident, WorkSafe immediately issued two improvement notices to ensure a barrier was put between the pedestrian pathway and vehicles at the Onehunga site and to ensure procedures were in place for forklifts operating near pedestrians.

Both these notices were complied with.

West said forklifts were a known risk yet it was clear these risks were not being appropriately managed in many workplaces.

"Risk assessment should consider anybody who could be harmed – which includes both workers and customers, and businesses must not lose sight of that."