It is interesting how decisions vary greatly depending on where a matter is heard. The following two recent prosecutions illustrate this. In the first, a company was convicted and fined for not providing fall protection, a SWMS and supervision to an apprentice. It was fortunate that the young worker did not fall before the situation was remedied.
In the second case, where a worker's hand was crushed and three of his fingers 'degloved' and could not work for months, the employer was not convicted but sentenced to an 'adjourned undertaking for a period of 12 months', and to pay $12,000 to the Court Fund.
Carpentry firm convicted and fined $10,000 for lack of fall protection
David Franklin Builders P/L was doing carpentry works at a residential construction site at Black Hill. A WorkSafe Inspector attending the workplace in October 2019 observed a third year apprentice standing on wall plates at the edge of the two story townhouse with no fall protection to prevent a fall. There was no supervision of the apprentice. The company did not have a SWMS for the work. The inspector issued a prohibition notice prohibiting all carpentry works associated with truss erection and box gutter construction. On 13 December 2019 the inspector re-attended the workplace: hand railing and scaffolding was in place, and a SWMS was produced.
In sentencing the offender, the Ballarat Magistrates Court acknowledged the offender’s good character, lack of priors and early plea of guilty. The company was convicted and fined $10,000, plus costs of $1,662.
Worker suffers serious damage to hand
Cyco Systems Corporation P/L manufactures parts for high performance automotive engines at a small factory at Mentone. On 18 July 2019 an incident occurred when an employee's hand made contact with the linishing belt of a lathe used in the assembly process. The incident resulted in the degloving of his small, ring and middle fingers, hyperextension of his index finger, as well as the removal of a nail. He underwent an operation and was unable to work for two to three months. The court found the company had failed to reduce or eliminate the risk of serious injury by providing adequate guarding.
Cyco Systems pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to an adjourned undertaking for a period of 12 months, and to pay $12,000 to the Court Fund with costs of $1,891.
To check for more Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.