Transport company fined $30,000 over unsafe workplace and not reporting an injury
Issue Date: - Thursday, 12 November 2009
A Bibra Lake transport company has been fined a total of $30,000 over an incident in which a worker’s legs were crushed under the wheels of a truck trailer.
Holm Pty Ltd – trading as Cockburn Transport – pleaded guilty to two changes last week and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The company was fined $25,000 for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment, and $5000 for failing to notify the WorkSafe Commissioner of an injury to one of its employees.
In April 2007, a working Director of the company was washing down a trailer attached to a prime mover in the wash bay of the workplace when he noticed an air leak coming from the trailers.
He asked another employee – a diesel mechanic – to assess the air leak. The mechanic needed to climb under one of the trailers to confirm his assessment of the problem.
During this time, the prime mover was left idling, and neither the Director nor the mechanic locked out and tagged the prime mover to ensure it was not operated while maintenance was being carried out.
While the mechanic was under the trailer, the Director continued washing the trailers. To complete the task, he needed to move the vehicle. He reversed the vehicle, unaware that the mechanic was still under the trailers.
The mechanic’s legs were crushed under the wheels of a trailer, and he suffered broken bones in his feet, ankles and legs.
Some of the injuries suffered by the mechanic were reportable under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Regulations. The Director was made aware of the mechanic’s injuries, and also that he needed to report them to WorkSafe, but he failed to do so.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said today that the case should serve as a reminder on a couple of workplace issues.
“Firstly, workplaces need to have a safe system of work in place when maintenance work is being carried out on any type of machinery with moving parts,” Ms Lyhne said.
“Locking out and tagging is a good and inexpensive method of ensuring that machinery is not activated when it is being worked on, but this employer failed to maintain this safe system of work.
“Secondly, there is a prescribed list of work-related injuries that must be reported to WorkSafe within a reasonable time of them taking place.
“The employer in this case was made aware of his obligation to report this incident to WorkSafe, but chose to ignore that obligation.
“The failure to provide and maintain a working environment in which employees were not exposed to hazards led in this case to a great amount of suffering for an employee, and I hope this case encourages other employers to have safe systems of work in place at all times.”
Further information on safe workplaces and reporting of injuries can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 9327 8777 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.
Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 9327 8744 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only).