Mechanic fined $2000 over injuries to apprentice

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A heavy duty mechanic has been fined $2000 (plus $1200 in costs) over an incident in which an apprentice sustained serious injuries when a bus slipped off a jack onto him.

Paul Egerton pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety and health of another person and was fined in the Midland Magistrates Court on Thursday.

In December 2009, Mr Egerton was employed by Path Transit Pty Ltd as a heavy duty mechanic at the company's Malaga bus depot. It was part of his duties to supervise and guide apprentice heavy duty mechanics.

Path Transit had a written procedure for the jacking of buses that required that the rear wheels be held in place by steel chocks, that the bus be supported by stands and have the brake on, and that no-one could be under a bus while it was being supported by a jack.

On December 16, Mr Egerton was asked to move a bus that was badly damaged by fire from one area of the compound to another. Mechanical parts of the bus damaged by fire needed to be released to allow the bus to be towed.

Two apprentices were assisting Mr Egerton in the task of moving the bus, and both slid under the bus at different times in order to put wooden chocks into place.

Mr Egerton used a jack sitting on two wooden blocks to jack up the bus while one of the apprentices was underneath the bus attempting to insert chocks under the bus.

The bus was jacked up higher than the stands underneath it, so it was only supported by the jack with the wooden blocks. The bus rolled forward onto the apprentice, and his head and chest were pinned under it.  He suffered serious head and chest injuries.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today that the case was an example of an employee disregarding the written procedures to get the job done quickly.

"For the sake of expediency, this employee disregarded several written procedures including the need for steel chocks and stands to be used, and the safe work practice of not allowing anyone to work under a bus when it was supported by a jack," Mr McCulloch said.

"The accused was a very experienced mechanic, and should have known better than to cut corners and risk the safety of the apprentices under his supervision.

"The consequences were serious, and should serve as a warning to everyone to think again before disregarding safe systems of work, and to always consider the safety of others in the workplace.

"In this case, the employer was not prosecuted because written procedures had been put into place to reduce the risks and the employer would have expected these procedures to have been followed at all times.

"Workers have a clear responsibility under WA's workplace safety laws to ensure their own safety and that of other workers and anyone else in the workplace. This case illustrates that WorkSafe can and will prosecute anyone in a workplace who disregards safe work practices."

Further information on WA's workplace safety laws can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact:
Caroline De Vaney
9327 8744 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only).
caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

WorkSafe
Media release
23 Apr 2012

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