Prosecutions

$100K FINE FOR BENDIGO HEALTH OVER PATIENT'S DEATH

Victorian healthcare provider Bendigo Health has been fined $100,000, plus $5,062 in costs, for breaching section 23 ("Duties of employers to other persons") of the State Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, in relation to the suicide death of a patient in a psychiatric unit.

The Bendigo Magistrates Court that in August 2016, the woman was involuntarily admitted into the unit after presenting at Bendigo Health's emergency department seeking help and reporting suicidal thoughts.

She took her own life within the unit later that month, reportedly after nurses failed to remove an object that helped facilitate the suicide.

The Court heard it had been reasonably practicable for Bendigo Health – which pleaded guilty to contravening section 23 in failing to ensure non-workers weren't exposed to risks – to reduce the woman's risk of injury or death.

"This is an extremely sad incident that should never have happened," WorkSafe Victoria health and safety executive director Dr Narelle Beer said after the healthcare provider was sentenced.

"Every employer has a duty to do everything they can to reduce risks to the health and safety of everyone within a workplace, including those associated with intentional self-harm," she said.

Lifeline's crisis line: phone 13 11 14, pronounced "thirteen eleven fourteen".

Source: OHS Alert, 06 September 2022 -

SUSPENDED LOAD SLIPS - CAR TRADER FINED $40,000 

Neil Beer Motors, a licensed motor vehicle trader with approximately 40 employees in Seymour, has pleaded guilty to one charge under section 21(1) of the Act; failing to maintain a safe work environment free of risks to health.  

On 26 August 2019 it was decided items in a large storage shed should be disposed of or sold and several employees were tasked with different aspects of the work. Lighter items were to be removed by hand and heavier ones with a forklift. Amongst the heavy items was a vehicle transmission at the back of the shed.  

As the forklift tynes were too short to reach it, the forklift operator decided to use a set of extension attachments, forged in metal and shaped as sleeves to ‘slip over’ the tynes to extend their reach. 

The slippers had holes with pins to secure them to the tynes but the pins could not be located.  

Having fitted the slippers on the forklift without safety pins, the forklift operator was able to reach the pallet loaded with the transmission and proceeded to remove it.  

Predictably, the safety bracket of that slipper became jammed on the tyne, preventing the smooth operation of the forklift and preventing the tynes from being lowered.  

The forklift operator instructed an employee to cut the bracket using an angle grinder, which he did wearing a protective face shield, but no hard-shell PPE. He moved under the suspended tynes - still loaded with the transmission - and began cutting when the load fell onto the employee’s head.  

The forklift operator then moved the forklift away, freed and transported the injured worker to a hospital, where he remained for three days with skull fractures on both sides, nerve damage to an eye socket, black eyes, nerve damage to the right eye (which caused his right eyebrow to droop down over his eye), nosebleed, brain-bleed, headaches, and vertigo.  

The offender failed to maintain a safe system of work and there was a comprehensive lack of care with no risk assessment conducted and employees made to work under a suspended load. 

Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings 

SHEPPARTON CONCRETE MANUFACTURER FINED $35,000 OVER CRANE INCIDENT

In order to extract a 5-meter rectangular concrete trough from the mould had to be inverted. Clamps were removed and the mould lifted by a bridge cranes. The crane was connected to a spreader bar by chain slings. The spreader bar was connected to the top half of the mould by further chain slings attached to each end of the mould.

An employee stated the task can be difficult to do, because once inverted the product wants to return to its original position. Further, if one person is spinning the mould, substantial force is required and the product can become unstable and unsteady.

On 7 April 2020, employees of the offender were directed to perform the task.

CCTV captured the mould detaching from the chain slings and beginning to fall, striking upright stands before coming to a rest on the ground. The eastern end of the mould remained connected to the crane, causing the plant to bounce around. The employees were able to jump back and were uninjured.

By its plea, the offender acknowledged that it was reasonably practicable for the task to be performed by mechanical means (that is, without the physical involvement of an employee), for an exclusion zone to be set up before the task was undertaken around the rotation area, and for employees to be formally training in the use of the crane and/or mould spinning task by a qualified person.

The producer of concrete pits, risers, drinking troughs for livestock, encasements and septic systems pleaded guilty, was with convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $35,000.00 and costs of $3,716.00.

Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings

 

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