As one Western Australia employer recently discovered, fines can be stiff if you suffer an injury on the job.
The company was penalized with a fine of $60,000 (along with an additional $7,673 in costs) tied to an incident in which a female worker was injured when a lifting device fell onto her from the rear of a truck.
Failed to Provide and Maintain A Safe Work Environment
According to the Government of Western Australia, National Fleet Administrative Services Pty Ltd. recently pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for a person not being an employee of National Fleet Administrative Services and, by that failure, causing serious harm to the person, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court.
National Fleet Administrative Services employs and contracts drivers who transport goods. In May 2009, a driver employed by National Fleet Administrative Services was carrying out his normal activities of transporting mattresses when he was directed to another customer’s premises to transport two industrial ovens.
As the story goes, an employee of the customer used a lifting device known as a “walkie stacker” to lift the first of the ovens off the factory floor and move it onto the tail lift of the truck. The driver told the customer’s employee to put both the walkie stacker and the oven onto the tail lift.
Once the tail lift had been elevated to the desired height, the customer’s employee started to move the walkie stacker into the rear of the truck. During this process, the walkie stacker began to roll backwards and subsequently fell off the rear of the tail lift.
Reminder of Importance of Training Workers on Safety
The customer’s employee was struck by the walkie stacker as it fell, and it pinned her to the ground. As a result, she suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and serious spinal injuries.
The tail lift of the truck did have roll stop devices fitted, but the driver had not received any training in their use, or in the proper use of the tail lift. He had never used roll stop devices before, and had never placed a walkie stacker on a tail lift.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch noted afterwards that the case highlighted the importance of proper training and strict safe systems of work.
“The case should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of training workers in all aspects of operating machinery and having safe systems of work in place at all times, especially when handling heavy items,” McCulloch stated.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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