Prosecutions

Company fined $30K after worker loses thumb 

A national steel supply and fabrication company has been fined $30,000 after a worker's thumb was caught in a metal bar bending machine. The 28-year-old machine operator was taken to hospital where his thumb was amputated.

OneSteel Reinforcing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates Court on 7 February to one charge under section 21(1) of the OHS Act of failing to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a safe working environment. The court imposed the fine without conviction, in view of the company's early guilty plea and the fact it had had no prior convictions.

In 2018, WorkSafe launched 33 investigations into machine entrapment cases where guarding was absent or inadequate. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said missing or inadequate guarding could cause severe injuries or even death. "This horrific and debilitating kind of injury should not be occurring in the 21st century, yet machine guarding remains one of the state's biggest workplace safety issues," Ms Nielsen said. 
Read more: WorkSafe Media release

To check all of the recent prosecutions, go to the WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

NSW: Farm operator fined $180k for contractor death
A farm operator in remote north-west New South Wales was last week fined $180,000 after a 20 year old contractor was fatally injured while chasing a dingo on a motorbike.

The young man was killed in September 2014 after he fell from his motorbike at Lake Stewart Station. He was not wearing a helmet, and in September last year the farm operator, KD & JT Westbrook Pty Ltd, was found guilty in the NSW District Court of failing to provide a safe work environment.

The maximum fine for the offence is $1.5 million. In sentencing the company, Judge Andrew Scotting said the offence was one of some "objective gravity" and he took the maximum penalty into account when imposing the $180,000 fine last week. He also imposed an "adverse publicity order", requiring a public notice of the offence and for the sentence to be shared in rural print and online publications.
Read more: ABC News online

NSW: Company fined $300k after workers plummet 12 storeys
Sydney cleaning company Building Maintenance Unit Service was last week fined $300,000 by SafeWorkNSW after two workers were left permanently disabled following a 12-storey fall while inside a cleaning platform. The company pleaded guilty early and was given a 25 per cent 'discount' on the fine.

The men were cleaning windows outside the Australian Stock Exchange in October 2015 when they plunged 25 to 30 metres, hitting an awning above Pitt Street. One worker sustained fractures to his right shoulder, right tibia, left knee, ribs, jaw and teeth, as well as head and spinal injuries and a punctured lung, while the other suffered a spinal fracture, a fractured ankle and a dislocated finger.

The platform, which was unique to the building, was due to have a major 10-year inspection worth $2,000 -  which Building Maintenance Unit Service was aware of - but it was not carried out. Building Maintenance Unit Service was engaged by Investa Asset Management - one of Australia's largest office real estate companies - to carry out the maintenance. However Building Maintenance Unit Service ceased trading in December 2017 after it was sold to pay off creditors. Its directors claim it has a very limited ability to pay the fine. 
Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald; ABC News online

WA:Government agency fined $90K after fatality 
The WA State Government agency that operates HBF Stadium has been fined $90,000 (and $2100 in costs) over the death of a worker who fell through a skylight in the roof of the stadium. Western Australian Sports Centre Trust – trading as VenuesWest – pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to failing to ensure that persons at the workplace were not exposed to hazards.

In June 2016, VenuesWest contracted a painting company to undertake external painting work on HBF Stadium: this company in turn subcontracted scaffolding company Perth Aluminium Scaffolds Pty Ltd to erect and remove scaffolding on the stadium roof. The painting work included painting steel masts and stays on the roof of the stadium, and Perth Aluminium Scaffolds had erected scaffolding between the masts on the roof to give the painters access.

On the morning of June 8, four Perth Aluminium Scaffolds employees were dismantling this scaffolding when one of them stepped on a skylight and fell about 11 metres through a void area to the concrete concourse below. The scaffolders had not been provided with a site-specific safety induction, a job safety analysis or safe work method statement specific to the work, or any information identifying the skylights as a hazard, or even identifying the skylights at all. No rails or barriers – either permanent or temporary – had been placed around the skylights, and they were not fitted with safety mesh.
Read more: WA Media release

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