Company Fined $60,000 For Failing to Provide Safe Work Environment

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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Fine For Employee Deaths Amounts To Slap On The Wrist

 

As the Alberta (Canada) Federation of Labor (AFL) sees it, the recent fine given to oil company Sinopec amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
 
According to the AFL, the $1.5 million fine will have little or no impact on halting the company from continuing to have in place reported practices that endanger their employees.
 
During a recent court hearing, the Canadian subsidiary of Chinese oil corporation Sinopec was fined $1.5 million for an incident that led to the deaths of a pair of their employees their lives.
 
As AFL President Gil McGowan put it, “One and a half million dollars doesn’t even amount to a rounding error in the annual budget of a monstrous global corporation like Sinopec. This fine does nothing to dissuade them from playing fast and loose with the safety of their workforce.”
 
 
Imported Third World Health and Safety Standards
 
The story unfolded when Sinopec and a pair of other companies were charged after a 2007 container collapse resulted in the deaths of two temporary foreign workers at an oil sands project near Fort McKay, Alberta. In all, 53 charges were handed down against the companies, of which Sinopec pled guilty to three charges of failing to oversee the health and safety of its employees.
 
McGowan noted that “Sinopec didn’t just import workers from the third world, they also imported third-world health and safety standards. Alberta missed its chance to send a message that Chinese companies working in the oil sands need to play by Canadian rules.”
 
While McGowan added that it might be the largest safety fine in Alberta history, it further demonstrates that Alberta has a long history in failing to aggressively enforce its own workplace safety rules.
 
The two victims, Ge Genbao, 28, and Lui Hongliang, 33, were just two of the more than 130 Cantonese-speaking workers who were transported from China for the Sinopec oil sands project.
 
 
Complete Abdication of Safety Responsibility
 
“We shouldn’t forget the circumstances that led to the deaths of Genbao and Hongliang,” McGowan went on to say. “The company did not get the construction plans certified by an engineer. The wires weren’t strong enough to hold up against the wind. It was a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the employer.”
 
China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group established in July 1998 on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corp.
 
 
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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

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