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Prosecution Details

Offender VL Tran Family Company Pty Ltd (ACN: 163 982 161)


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 G2900/2022 30/08/2018 17th November 2022 3A(3)(b)(i) $110,000.00 17th November 2022
Description of Breach(es)

Being a person that had, to any extent, control of a workplace where persons who were not its employees worked or were likely to be in the course of their work, failed to take such measures as were practicable to ensure that the workplace was such that persons at the workplace were not exposed to hazards and thereby caused serious harm to a person.

Background Details


The Offender and the Workplace

The First Offender, VL Tran Family Company Pty Ltd (hereinafter ‘the Offender’), is an Australian Company with company registration number 163 982 161 and is based in Western Australia and was set up on 28 May 2013.

The Second Offender, Van Lam TRAN (hereinafter ‘Mr Tran) is the sole Director of the Offender which operates a farm.  He speaks Vietnamese and his ability to communicate in English is limited.

The farm is situated at 703 Geraldton-Mount Magnet Road in Moonyoonooka in Western Australia, approximately 12km from the Geraldton town centre. Vegetables are grown on the farm.  A residence is located at the front of the block. At the rear of the residence is a work area comprising a level concrete hardstand and sheds. Located in the work area is mobile plant and packaging supplies. The mobile plant included a truck, a bulldozer and a forklift (hereinafter ‘the forklift’).  Vegetable growing houses are scattered around the residence and elsewhere on the block. When vegetables had been picked they were placed into ‘bins’, being cardboard packing crates.

Relationship between the Offender and Other Parties

The Offender sourced the ‘bins’ and other farm supplies from an agricultural supply company which provide services and products to rural agricultural enterprises. The ‘bins’ were transported from the agricultural supply company location to the Offender by road.

The supply company engaged a transport company for long distance deliveries and there was a particular driver who normally made deliveries to the Offender.

The transport company was unable to make a delivery and in turn contacted the victim who operated his own transport company.

The victim in turn contacted the agricultural supply company and was given a job to deliver to Geraldton on 30 August 2019. The job concerned transporting 5 pallets of cardboard boxes (the bins), 2 pallets of bags of fertiliser and 2 pallets of liquid fertiliser.

The victim was made aware that there were some communication difficulties with some of the farmers in Geraldton. He was given details for a contact person nearby to the Offender that spoke English (contact person).

29 August 2019

The victim attended the agricultural supply company location to collect the load he was to deliver to Geraldton.   A person unknown to the victim loaded the victim’s truck using a forklift which required fork extensions.  The victim observed pallets of cardboard boxes (‘the pallets of bins’) being loaded into his truck.

The pallets were approximately 2.3m high but slightly smaller in width than a standard pallet. The pallets were all different heights and some would not fit onto the back of the truck and were put back into the warehouse. The pallet bases were constructed of cardboard. The pallets of bins did not appear heavy but appeared unstable as they were being loaded onto the victim’s truck.It was the first time the victim had seen this type of pallet.

Each pallet of cardboard bins weighed approximately 850kg. The pallets of fertiliser were a standard size pallet. 

30 August 2019

The victim drove to Geraldton. He contacted the contact person who spoke English on the way for assistance with translating. Closer to Geraldton, the victim met the contact person and followed him to the Offender’s farm, arriving at approximately 12:00pm.

The contact person showed the victim where to park his truck and then introduced the victim to a person called Mr Tran. The victim was unsure what Mr Tran’s role was.

The contact person left leaving Mr Tran to unload the truck. There was a brief introduction between the victim and Mr Tran but there was no substantial communication between the two due to language barriers.


The victim started unstrapping the load whilst Mr Tran operated the forklift to unload the truck.  There was no exclusion zone established.

Mr Tran attempted to unload a pallet of the cardboard bins with some difficulty. The victim assisted Mr Tran by giving verbal instructions in English and using hand gestures. This required the victim to be within Mr Tran’s line of vision and to be close to the forklift.

Mr Tran successfully unloaded the pallet of cardboard bins from the truck. He then continued to unload pallets of cardboard bins from the truck with assistance from the victim who was in close proximity to the forklift.

As Mr Tran was unloading the further pallets of cardboard bins from the truck a pallet of cardboard bins fell from the forklift. The pallet of cardboard bins (the ‘load’) fell onto the victim, pushing him backwards and pinning him to the ground.

Mr Tran used the forklift to lift the load off the victim.

Serious Harm

The victim was transported by ambulance to Geraldton Regional Hospital and later transferred to Royal Perth Hospital.  He sustained the following injuries as a result of being struck with the load and pinned to the ground:

a.             Open displaced fracture to his right tibia;

b.             Comminuted fracture to his left tibia and spiral fracture to left fibular; and

c.             Fractures to L3 and L4 vertebrae.

The victim was still receiving surgical treatment for his injuries as at September 2021 and is likely to require further surgical treatment in the future.

The Hazard

The hazard in the work environment was load falling from a forklift in an area where pedestrians may be present. 

Practicable Measures to Prevent or Mitigate the Hazard

The Offender, as the person with control of the workplace, failed to take any or all of the following practicable measures to ensure that persons who were not its employees and who were working at the property on 30 August 2019 were not exposed to the hazard:

  1. Have and enforce work procedures for managing the safe movement of plant at the workplace; and/or
  2. Have and enforce a system of separating pedestrians from areas that a forklift is being operated, an exclusion zone, by using barricades, barriers or other appropriate control measures;
  3. Conduct an induction or safety briefing with visitors to the property where there would be interaction with mobile plant; and

Ensure forklifts are not operated if pedestrians are present in the area the forklift is operating.

Outcome Summary

The offender plead guilty and was convicted on 17 November 2022. The Magistrate fined the offender $110,000 and ordered costs of $1100.00

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Geraldton/Perth
Costs $1100.00

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