One Australian employer found out how expensive it can be when workplace safety is not followed all the time.
The Bibra Lake, Australia steel fabrication business was fined $75,000 over an incident in which a contractor was seriously injured when a crane struck a scissor-lift on which he was working.
Metwest Steel Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace for a contractor carrying out work and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee of the contractor, and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court recently.
In October 2011, an employee of Total Hoists and Cranes Pty Ltd attended Metwest Steel to carry out repairs on one of two cranes in the workshop.
The worker stood on the work platform of a scissor-lift in order to access the control box for the crane on which he was working. The platform was raised to about six metres and the handrail was above the bottom edge of the crossbeam on the crane.
At the same time, an employee of Metwest Steel used the other crane in the workshop to lift and place a steel beam on a shelf. This moving crane collided with the stationery crane on which the Total Hoists and Cranes employee was working.
The collision moved the crane, which then pushed the handrail of the scissor-lift and tipped it over, causing the man standing on it to fall around six meters.
An employee of Metwest Steel who was welding approximately four meters away was knocked down by the falling scissor-lift, but was not seriously injured.
The Total Hoists and Cranes employee suffered complete paraplegia.
Commissioner Notes Shocking Example of Safety Failure
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said recently the case was a shocking example of a failure to ensure that safe systems of work were in place.
“The court heard that anti-collision devices were fitted at a cost of little more than $2,000 after this incident,” McCulloch said.
“It would have been entirely practicable and not overly expensive to have had these devices fitted earlier, avoiding the tragic incident that ultimately took place and the devastating permanent injury that was caused.
“This case should serve as a reminder that thorough risk assessments need to be undertaken in every workplace and that safe systems of work need to be in place.
“It is also a reminder that anyone who is in control of a workplace is responsible for the safety and health of not only their own employees, but also workers from other companies contracted to undertake tasks in their workplace.”
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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