Another example from the Health and Safety Handbook publishers:
Falls from height are one of the deadliest health and safety risks that employers are continually failing to address.
This time, the director of a Victorian company has found himself in court for not taking obvious precautions that would have prevented a tragic and entirely avoidable workplace death.
John Paul Kenneally and his company Entire Shopfitting Pty Ltd were fined a total of $330,000 after the Melbourne County Court found both parties guilty for failing to implement fall prevention measures to protect its workers.
In May 2017, two of the company’s workers undertaking construction work for an extension to a new indoor children’s play centre were directed to work on a two-metre high mezzanine level to start framing works.
One of the workers positioned a stepladder at the edge of the mezzanine where the balustrade had been removed.
When the other worker climbed the ladder, one of the ladder’s legs went through a gap in the floor, tipping him over the edge of the mezzanine where he fell to the ground below.
The worker suffered serious injuries and later died in hospital.
Entire Shopfitting Pty Ltd was fined $300,000 for failing to provide or maintain systems of work that were safe, as well as failing to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement before the workers carried out the high-risk work.
John Paul Kenneally was personally fined $30,000 for failing to take reasonable care.
Julie Nielsen, Health and Safety Executive Director of WorkSafe said this incident was a tragic reminder of the catastrophic consequences that working from height can have.
“The combination of a ladder and an unguarded void is a deadly one. There is no excuse for failing to protect workers from falls from height. The risks are well known and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control them,” she said.
WorkSafe says employers should take the following steps to prevent workers falling from heights:
When an employee is killed or injured at work, not only is the employer liable for fines like those detailed above, but their workers compensation premium can also be seriously impacted.
A company and its director have been fined $1.2 million after selling a faulty submersible pump that caused a woman to be electrocuted to death.
Pump Factory Pty Ltd had imported hundreds of the pumps from a Chinese manufacturer and resold them under its own name and the brand names Kasa Pumps and Kasa Factory.
The company and its director failed to ensure that the pumps were electrically safe and met the relevant Australian Standard before selling them on to the Australian market.
Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office (ESO) found in its investigation that the pumps were of substandard quality and poorly designed, allowing internal wires to tangle, rip out of their connections and come into contact with the metal body of the pump.
Pump Factory Pty Ltd was charged with breaching section 33 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) (the ES Act) for failing to ensure the pumps were electrically safe, as well as section 40C of the ES Act for failing to comply with its electrical safety duty and exposing individuals to the risk of death or serious injury or illness.
Zoran Kacavenda, the company’s sole director, was charged with breaching section 38 of the ES Act for failing his duty to exercise due diligence as a company officer.
Both parties pleaded guilty to the offences and were fined $1 million and $200,000 respectively.
Head of the ESO, Victoria Thomson, said the ruling was a stark reminder for importers to ensure their products are safe before importing or offering them for sale in Australia.
“Anyone who imports electrical goods for sale in Australia must ensure they meet Australian standards and are tested to be electrically safe,” she said.
“The consequences of failing to meet this requirement are extremely serious – and in this instance, tragic.
“This is also a strong warning for consumers shopping online for electrical products. Make sure your seller is contactable, then make a point of asking them if their product meets Australian safety standards before you buy.
“Consumers have a right to be electrically safe when they buy electrical products, despite the enormous growth in online stores.
“Be very wary if you cannot verify the company’s business details. You cannot think too much about safety when you’re buying online.”
Ms Thomson also noted that the pump in the woman’s home had no electrical safety switch installed on the circuit it was plugged into, which could have prevented her death.
“Despite your best efforts to buy wisely, there’s still no way of knowing what work has been done on your home before you moved into it - or if any of your appliances are going to become electrically unsafe,” she said.
“The most effective way to protect against this risk is to have safety switches installed on all circuits in your home. Put simply, safety switches save lives.”
Pump Factory Pty Ltd has recalled the faulty pumps and most have been returned, however the ESO has warned anyone who still owns one to stop using it immediately and contact the supplier at email@example.com or 1300 718 025 to organise a refund.
If you are importing products you will be responsible if they are faulty or not compliant with the relevant Australian Standard or similar requirement
Some important advice from our friends at Portner Press and the Health & Safety Handbook.
Forklift accidents due to poor traffic management are an ongoing problem in Australia.
Despite the huge penalties that can be imposed for not implementing suitable traffic safety measures, this is still an issue that many employers are failing to address.
Below, we outline 6 steps every employer must take to identify traffic hazards in the workplace and determine what controls to put in place to manage the risks from those hazards:
Step 1: Consult your workers
When identifying traffic hazards, you should consult with:
Be sure to consult all affected workers, particularly if there are some who work different shifts.
Step 2: Identify all collision points
Map out all movement of mobile plant and vehicles inside the premises, including:
Step 3: Identify the safest routes on the site plan
Determine the requirements of pedestrians, mobile plant and vehicles in your workplace. Then identify the safest routes and mark them on the site plan.
You must display your site plan in a clearly visible place.
The safest route may not be the most direct route. You will also have to account for the fact that workers may try to take shortcuts.
Using physical barrier to separate mobile plant from pedestrians may help to prevent dangerous shortcuts.
Step 4: Consider the effectiveness of current controls
Consider whether the current arrangements for separating pedestrians from mobile plant and vehicles are effective, or whether better options are available.
To make this assessment, ask yourself the following questions:
Once you have identified the hazards and their associated risks, use the hierarchy of control to determine appropriate risk controls.
The hierarchy of control is a risk control method that sets out approaches you can use to control risks and hazards in the workplace, in order of implementation.
Elimination is the most effective control. If this is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk as much as possible by working through the other alternatives in the hierarchy, in order of effectiveness.
The following lists some examples, using the hierarchy of control, to minimise traffic hazards:
Hierarchy of control Examples
Step 6: Communicate controls to workers and visitors
Communicate controls and display the new site plan in prominent locations throughout the workplace. You should require all workers and visitors to the site to comply with it.
Learn more in the Health & Safety Handbook
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