Recycling company fined $85,000 over worker death

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A Bayswater waste recycling company has been fined $85,000 (and ordered to pay $2488.50 in costs) over the death of a worker in September 2013.

Resource Recovery Solutions pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for a labour hire worker and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court yesterday.

Resource Recovery Solutions specialises in recycling waste from construction and demolition sites.

The main part of the Resource Recovery Solutions workplace is a very large shed housing an automated recycling plant composed of numerous crushers and screeners with material being moved through on a series of conveyors.

Also inside the shed is a small prefabricated hut known as the picking station with a flat roof constructed of rectangular modular panels.

Passing over the picking station roof are two large conveyor belts that carry the recyclable material, which is mostly masonry plus dirt and sand.  As the belts pass over the rollers, materials are jolted loose to fall on the roof of the picking station.

Cleaning this material off the roof of the picking station was usually carried out at the end of the day as part of a general workplace clean-up, with between two and four workers usually assigned to the task.

On September 9, 2013, five labour hire workers were working in the picking station when one of the roofing panels collapsed under the weight of the accumulated debris on the roof.

One of the workers was killed and the remaining four were unharmed.

It was found that there was 709.02 kilograms of debris on the roof, more than five times the Safe Working Load and equivalent to around five to six weeks of the usual build-up if it had not been removed.

Most of the debris was believed to have been deposited on the roof on the preceding Saturday.  The plant did not operate on Sundays, and this incident occurred on the Monday.

The staff did not realise that the build-up of debris was a hazard, and expected that it would be cleaned off later in the day.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Chris Kirwin said today the incident was a tragic example of a workplace not having safe systems of work in place.

“The safety procedures that were in place at Resource Recovery Solutions were lax at best,” Mr Kirwin said.

“There was no clear system in place to monitor the roof of the picking station and ensure it was kept free of debris, and workers had not been warned of the hazard of a build-up on the roof.

“Although the roof was usually cleaned off as part of the general clean-up at the end of the day, the task was not included in any formal safety procedure and it was not regularly checked on.

“Since this incident, the employer has introduced procedures to ensure workers are aware of the hazard and that the roof of the picking station is checked throughout the day.

“The conveyor belts have also been upgraded so less debris is deposited on the picking station roof, which has also been reinforced with steel beams.

“But it would have been practicable for each of these control measures to have been put into place earlier, and it may well have prevented this tragic loss of life.

“Employers everywhere should use this case as a reminder to ensure that risks are assessed and all practicable safety measures and safe work procedures are put into place.”

Further information on safe work procedures can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

 

WorkSafe
Media release
18 Nov 2016

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