Employee Electrocution Results in Heavy Fine

Following the electrocution death of an employee, an employer participating in the federal government’s subsidized home insulation program was fined $100,000 for unsafe workplace practices Queensland (Australia) Workplace Health and Safety.
Mitchell Sweeney, 22, died in February 2010 while working on the ceiling of a home at Millaa Millaa, south of Cairns. He was electrocuted when he stapled a metal fastener through the foil and into a live wire. (WCxKit)
Sweeney was working for Gold Coast Company Titans Insulation, a participant in the federal government’s subsidized home insulation program. Following Sweeney’s death, the company was charged with failing to conduct its business in an electrically safe way.
After initially indicating it would defend the charge, the company pleaded guilty in the Industrial Magistrates Court in Brisbane.
The court heard the company did implement a number of strategies aimed at employee safety, including distributing plastic staples to workers. However, the court said these strategies did not go far enough to mitigate risk of death or serious injury to employees because, for example, the employer failed to ensure the plastic staples were actually being used.
Prosecutor Andrew Herbert, representing Queensland Workplace Health and Safety, said it was true Titans provided some training to staff and gave a number of directives that they were not to use metal staples. (WCxKit)
‘‘There was a complete absence of a system for detecting and understanding whether the workers were in fact complying with the directions,’’ Herbert said. ‘‘Any cursory inspection of their work by Titans would have revealed exactly what was going on.’’


Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.



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