Prosecutions

Company faces new chemical stockpile charges

WorkSafe Victoria has charged Bradbury Industrial Services Pty Ltd with an additional 21 alleged breaches of the Dangerous Goods Act relating to chemical stockpiles at three Craigieburn warehouses.

The company, which is now in liquidation, has been accused of committing seven offences under sections 31(1) and 45 of the Act for each warehouse.

The charges are in addition to seven charges filed against Bradbury in January for alleged offences at a Campbellfield site.

The new charges allege that Bradbury failed to take all reasonable precautions to prevent a fire or explosion of dangerous goods at the three Yellowbox Drive warehouses. WorkSafe alleges Bradbury also failed to reduce the risks associated with dangerous goods storage and failed to notify it of an excess quantity of dangerous goods at its sites. Having exceeded the regulated fire protection quantity of dangerous goods, WorkSafe further alleges the company failed to request the advice of the relevant emergency services in relation to a fire protection system and failed to have a written fire protection plan. It is also alleged the company failed, at each site, to properly display HAZCHEM placarding and failed to keep a manifest of its dangerous goods.

The Craigieburn stockpiles were uncovered during a joint WorkSafe and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) investigation into the dangerous goods storage in Melbourne's northern suburbs in January, 2019.

The matter has been listed for a filing hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on April 3, 2020.

Construction firm fine increased to $55k after appeal

Warrnambool civil construction firm Rodger Constructions Pty Ltd was undertaking works including the construction of roads, storm water drainage, sewerage and the provision of water supply.

On 13 February 2018 a Rodger Constructions employee filmed three workers inside a trench, with a height significantly higher than the workers. It was alleged that a qualified geo-technical engineer had not assessed the trench for risk of wall collapse before the work commenced. It was also alleged that there were no control measures in place to control the risk of wall collapse within the trench.

This incident formed the basis of charge 1, to which the employer pleaded guilty, admitting they had failed to reduce or eliminate the risk of wall collapse.

On 15 February 2018, the company was tasked with laying storm water pipes into trenches at the workplace. A pipe was not slung properly and a worker turned and walked towards the trench shield to enter the trench to assist with the positioning of the pipe at it was lowered. The trench did not have an access gantry. As he stepped over the gap between the trench and the shield, his foot slipped on sand sitting on the shield bar and he fell into the 2.4m deep trench, hitting his back and head. He suffered soft tissue injuries to his hips and back and spent three days in hospital.

WorkSafe inspectors attended the site, investigated and issued an improvement notice. Although it was complied with by the next day, this incident formed the basis of charge 2, to which again the company pleaded guilty, acknowledging it failed to install a fall arrest system.

The company was initially, on 14 November 2019, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000 on charge 1, and $15,000 on charge 2, plus $6,642 in costs. On appeal by the DPP the orders imposed by the Magistrates' Court were set aside, and in their stead the offender was ordered, without conviction, to pay a fine of $15,000 on charge 1, and $40,000 on charge 2, with costs not changing.

Host employer prosecuted after labour hire worker injured

Laverton North steel products manufacturing and distribution firm  Australian Steel Company (Operations) Pty Ltd engaged a third party to provide labour for its use at the workplace.

On 5 June 2018 three workers at the workplace were tasked with cutting, trimming, felling and removing 16 trees using a chainsaw. The three workers removed 13 of the 16 trees that day without incident. The next day, June 6, the workers resumed the task. As the final, smaller, tree was being cut, the chainsaw blade came into contact with a weed mat protruding from the ground, which caused it to kick back, striking the other worker's leg. An ambulance was called and the worker underwent surgery on his leg.

Australian Steel held a toolbox meeting and conducted a documented risk assessment prior to the task commencing, but had relied on the previous training and experience of two of the workers, not providing specific training.

The company pleaded guilty following a sentence indication, and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $27,500 plus $3,000 costs. By its plea, the company acknowledged that it ought to have provided training to the workers in the use of the chainsaw and in the safe cutting of trees.

Salad grower fined, not convicted, after worker's leg trapped in machine

Hussey and Co Asset Holdings Pty Ltd, is a large salad growinging and processing business in Newry. The company used a pea seeder connected to a tractor by an A-frame to sow seeds. The pea seeder consisted of a hopper, where seeds were placed, and a rotating auger inside the hopper, which was controlled by hydraulics in the tractor. The hopper did not have any guarding to restrict bodily access to the rotating auger - creating a risk to workers of becoming seriously injured as a result of becoming entrapped by the rotating auger in the hopper.

On 7 March 2018, the risk eventuated when an employee suffered injuries to his leg after attempting to step over the hopper to put weight on the A-frame, which had unhooked itself from the pea seeder. As he stepped over the hopper, his foot slipped and became trapped.

The company pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $25,000 plus costs of $3,623.

To find our more details, and to keep up to date with new prosecutions, check WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

 

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