Prosecutions

Trainer charged over track rider's death

On 9 March, 2020, at about 6.30am, a 31-year-old male track rider was killed after a car struck the horse he was riding across Thirteenth Beach Road at Barwon Heads. WorkSafe Victoria has charged O'Brien Thoroughbreds with a single alleged breach of section 21(1) and section 21(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing, as far as reasonably practicable, to provide a system of work that was safe and without risks to health.

WorkSafe will allege that the company failed to implement a traffic management plan and to ensure that employees and horses wore high visibility clothing or equipment.

The matter is listed for a filing hearing at the Geelong Magistrates' Court on 25 March.

Unlicensed worker falls 4 metres, company charged

Global Freight and Logistics (Aust) Pty Ltd, a logistics business operating a warehouse in Truganina, and its employees used an item of powered mobile plant known as an Order Picker. Using or operating this piece of equipment is 'high risk work' under the OHS Regs meaning that employees who operate it must hold a valid high risk work licence class LO.

On 17 October 2018 an unlicensed employee was using the Order Picker to retrieve a product from a shelf. He was not wearing a harness. The picker had two side rails and two back rails, which were able to be lifted up in order to get in and out of the picker. The employee lifted the back rails to get the product from the shelf but in doing so fell through the gap, hitting the ground about 4 metres below. He taken to hospital with a fractured pelvis.

The company:

  • failed to provide a safety harness for the use of the picker,
  • was unable to produce any employee records for the injured person,
  • did not provide any operating procedures to ensure that its employees were aware of the safety requirements for operating the Order Picker, and
  • did not know whether the employee held a high risk work licence.

Global was found guilty following an ex-parte application, and was without conviction fined $35,000 plus $1,891 in costs.

Company fined $40,000 after 200kg frame falls on worker

Victoria Ductwork and Sheetmetal Pty Ltd, a company manufacturing ductwork for the heating and ventilation industry out of premises in Doveton was last week fined $40,000 over an incident in February 2019.

The workplace has a driveway, accessible to pedestrians and vehicles, used to store various metal components including a large steel frame weighing about 200kgs, leaning up against a wall on a slight angle.

On the day of the incident two trucks arrived to pick up items for delivery. The first truck was loaded and moved out of the driveway but was still at the workplace. Two employees were standing on the driveway when the second truck was being loaded. The truck driver of the first truck had some problems tying down his load, and reached for a piece of wood lying on the ground in the driveway. As he picked up the wood it knocked a small steel frame which then fell onto the large steel frame causing it to fall.  It brushed the leg of one employee, and fell onto the other employee, who was admitted to hospital for 10 days suffering a broken ankle, and fractured vertebrae, sternum and ribs.

WorkSafe's investigation revealed there was a risk of serious injury or death to employees and other persons that used the driveway area as a result of metal components becoming unstable and falling on them.

The company, which had no prior matters, and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, was fined s $40,000 plus $1,654.83 in costs.  It was given credit for the early plea and finalising the matter during the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption on the court's operation. Had it not been for this, the offender would have been convicted and fined $60,000 with costs.

To check for any Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage. 

SA: Woolworths convicted and fined for 'blind spot'

Supermarket giant Woolworths has been convicted of WHS offences after a "blind spot" in its inspection and maintenance regime allowed degraded equipment to fall on a worker, inflicting multiple fractures. 

South Australian Employment Tribunal Deputy President Magistrate Stuart Cole fined Woolworths Group Ltd $72,000, plus costs. He found that while the employer appeared to have proper safety procedures for a wide range of activities, it failed to implement one for the bakery trolleys it inherited when it took over the site where the incident occurred.

In August 2018, at Woolworths' Salisbury Downs supermarket, the worker was pulling on a loaded two-metre-high bakery trolley when its wheels jammed, causing it to fall on her and pin her to the ground. She suffered fractures to her spine, sternum and tibia and required surgery. She was unable to work for six months, only returning to her pre-injury duties in June last year.

In sentencing Woolworths, Deputy President Magistrate Cole took into account that it immediately responded to the incident with national action – directing its 1,052 Australian stores to danger-tag and isolate all similar bakery trolleys, and inspect all wheeled equipment to ensure their wheels were not defective. It also implemented a bakery trolley inspection and maintenance system, and sent photographs of wheels in good and poor condition to all stores. Although an appropriate penalty for Woolworths was $120,000, Magistrate Cole applied a 40 per cent discount for its guilty plea. Source: OHS Alert

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