A worker, fired for not immediately reporting a near miss at his job, has been reinstated by the Fair Work Commission.
The rendering plant supervisor, based at Steggles' Mareeba plant in Queensland, was dismissed for failing to immediately report that the mast of a forklift he was operating in a shed had struck a roof beam.
He argued his dismissal was unfair because he filled out an incident report, and looked for his supervisor to inform him of the incident. that he took reasonable steps to inform his supervisors and that the incident was not urgent.
He said he was unable to locate the supervisor, production and WHS managers, concluding they had all left for the day went home believing it was satisfactory to report the incident within 24 hours.
The commission ruled in his favour, criticising Steggles for not providing proper training and clear procedures. They found ‘refresher’ training given to the worker was just a multiple-choice quiz without proper guidance or assessment and couldn't be considered ‘real training’.
The commission also noted Steggles had no clear procedures for reporting incidents when managers were unavailable, and they couldn't expect the worker to follow steps that weren't specified.
This case highlights employers must have clear safety procedures and proper training and cannot rely on cynical ‘tick and flick’ modules to meet their obligations.