Prosecutions

Victorian Prosecutions:
1 - Nursery fined after cage crushes worker

Murray Valley Nurseries Pty Ltd, a large citrus fruit grower located at Wood Wood, Victoria, was last week fined $13,000 (plus costs of $3,450) over an incident in which a worker was crushed.

In July 2017 the employee was using an elevated work platform (EWP) to weld struts onto the side of a structure at height. Whilst hanging over the cage of the EWP, the boom and cage moved upwards crushing him between cage and the structure. He tried to move the cage downwards using his foot on the controls, but it only moved down marginally. He was helped to the ground by a co-worker. The employee suffered four broken ribs, a fractured vertebrae and a punctured lung.

A WorkSafe Inspector who observed the rear wheel of the EWP had been dislodged issued a Prohibition Notice. The EWP was later decommissioned and sold as scrap.

While the precise cause of the incident could not be established, but the inspector noted that there was o evidence of any pre-operation inspections or maintenance works being carried out. Further, no Safe Work Method Statement had been prepared in relation to high risk construction work involving the movement of powered mobile plant. Despite pleading guilty, the company was fined without conviction.

2 - Glazing firm fined $20k after worker crushed by glass
Glassworks (Aust) Pty Ltd operates from a large factory in Dandenong South where it makes glazing and glazing products for the building industry.

In March 2017, the company loaded and delivered glass panels to a construction site located in Glen Iris. The driver was directed to a public roadway next to the construction site in a designated unloading zone. The driver began undoing the load restraints on the passenger side of the truck: there were two restraint clamps securing the load of 1004 kg of sheet glass. Each restraint was rated at being able to sustain a load of 500Kg each - so the load was slightly overloaded. As he started to remove the second restraint the sheet glass fell from the A frame of the truck striking him on the head and pinning him between fencing and the glass. The remaining load restraint gave way due to the weight and pressure. He was taken to hospital, received treatment, and returned to work about 3 weeks later.

The company failed to take a number of simple measures to prevent such an incident occurring, and was found to be in breach of s21 of the OHS Act. Glassworks pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $20,000.00 and to pay costs of $5,582.

3 - Engineering firm fined after worker crushed by poly pipe rolls
Healesville based directional drilling and civil works company BTB Australia Pty Ltd had been subcontracted to complete drilling under a road in Williamstown as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project.

On 21 September 2017 an BTB employee was tasked with transporting and unloading 340kg rolls of poly pipe for installation at the workplace. The coils had been loaded onto the trailer by an excavator before being transported by the man to the workplace. Once there, he and two other employees were directed to unload the coils manually. One of the worker's colleagues stood on the trailer whilst he and the other colleague stood next to each other on the ground to guide the coil down the ramp of the trailer and onto the ground. The first coil was unloaded and landed in the correct position. The second coil reached the bottom of the ramp, tilted and began to fall towards the two men, crushing one. He was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery for a fractured pelvis and hips.

BTB Australia pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $50,000 and to pay costs of $3,578.50 for being in breach of s21 of the OHS Act.

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

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NSW: KFC fined after young worker suffers serious burns
A KFC franchise in Coffs Harbour was recently fined following serious injuries to a young worker. QSR Pty Ltd (QSR), a franchisee of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), was sentenced and fined $60,000 on 22 March under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after a 20-year-old worker slipped in the kitchen while cleaning and suffered serious burns to his leg.

In November 2016 the KFC worker used a ladder to access and clean the canopies of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system above open cook pots that were heating up oil. The worker followed the "usual method". However on this occasion, an electrical black out occurred, and as he tried to come down, his left leg slipped in the hot oil. The worker suffered third degree burns to his left leg and was treated in hospital. He has since undergone a skin graft to his left leg and has had mobility issues.

Executive Director for SafeWork Operations, Tony Williams said the incident was an example of the vulnerability of young and inexperienced people in the workplace and how vital it is that employers equip young workers with the right training and resources, supported by adequate levels of supervision and monitoring. Read more: SafeworkNSW media release

It is of huge concern that apart from inadequate training and supervision, it would seem that the unsafe systems of work were not specifically targetted. This is not the first time that a young worker has been seriously burnt in similar circumstances at a KFC store. In May 2017, KFC was convicted and fined $105,000 in the South Australian Magistrates Court, after a 16-year old worker fell into a tank of hot oil left unattended by other inexperienced workers (see SafetyNet 402). And in August 2015, a 16-year old worker suffered extensive third degree burns at the Geelong KFC fast food outlet (see SafetyNet 334). The magistrate initially fined KFC $175,000, from a maximum $1.5 million, but reduced the amount by 40 per cent for its "prompt" guilty plea.

NT: Transport company fined $154k over loading bay death
A Victorian based transport and warehouse company has been fined $154,000 today in the Darwin Local Court over the death of a 47 year old Maningrida man in 2016.

Glen Cameron Nominees Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to one breach of Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act for failing to comply with a health and safety duty.

The man, who cannot be named for cultural reasons, fell asleep in the loading dock area at the shopping centre in Leanyer on 7 October 2016. He was run over and killed when a driver of a prime mover leaving the loading dock failed to see him. The driver was a subcontractor to Glen Cameron Nominees Pty Ltd.

NT WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Chris Wicks said despite working for Glen Cameron since 2012, the sub-contractor involved in the incident was never provided induction training, or a site induction of the site. Read more: NTWorkSafe media release

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