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That’s why it is critically important that team members watch out for each other’s safety. This lesson was driven home recently at a warehouse in Sydney, Australia.
A Tragic Accident
Four men were working in a freezer at the Laurent packing company factory in the city’s Matraville neighborhood. One of the workers, Vijay Singh, of India, was unloading pallets with a forklift while the other three were assisting him, according to local news reports.
Lunch break time came and the three workers left to go eat, leaving Singh alone in the freezer. Unfortunately, while they were gone some of the pallets toppled onto Singh’s forklift, trapping him in the freezer between his vehicle and shelving.
The temperature in the freezer was -4 degrees Fahrenheit and Singh froze to death in less than an hour, according to the local coroner, Carmel Forbes. When his co-workers returned from their lunch break, they discovered that he already had turned blue and that he showed only vague signs of consciousness.
He was rushed to a local hospital, but by the time he arrived Singh’s body temperature already had fallen to 87 degrees F and many of his organs had already begin to fail. He suffered three cardiac arrests before finally dying from complications resulting from hypothermia.
People who knew him said Singh had worked at the company for about four years and had been saving money to send back to his family in India.
Could Have Been Prevented
The company that employed Sigh had already pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and had been fined $150,000. It closed the warehouse and is no longer operating in New South Wales.
This tragic story shows the importance of always looking out for one’s co-workers. Had one or more of his helpers stuck around to help him — or had they invited him to join them on their lunch break — Singh may not have frozen to death all alone in that freezer.
Working in a secluded area outside the sight of other people — or in a place where nobody can hear your shouts for help — is also a bad idea, especially if it also is in an area with potentially life-threatening working conditions, such as a warehouse freezer.
Watch Each Other’s Back
While it may not be practical to work in a freezer for a long period of time with the doors open, at the very least workers should be paired into teams so that if an accident does occur, help can be called.
Or surveillance cameras should be used and monitored so that accidents can be spotted and assistance provided before a tragedy such as this occurs.
While it’s all hindsight now in this particular case, the consequences of not following these basic types of workplace safety guidelines are evident: This warehouse is out of business.
Don’t let this type of thing happen to you. Regardless of whether or not they are working in extreme conditions, make sure your workers know that they always need to watch out for one another.
After all, we’re all in this together!