An employer was recently penalised for an OH&S breach by the Regulator, irrespective of the fact that an incident had not actually occurred. The Company was ordered to pay almost $10,000 in fines and costs by the Magistrates Court. The company pleaded guilty to failing to properly guard their salting tumblers.
This prosecution followed a visit conducted by a WorkCover Authority of Victoria Inspector in October 2013, who discovered that there was inadequate perimeter guarding surrounding the tumblers, which exposed employees to the danger of the machine’s chain drives, belts and pullies. The company was subsequently fined, without conviction for having breached two (2) sections of the State OH&S Act.
A pasta making company was fined $50,000 following an incident where a worker’s hand was caught inside the hopper of a cannelloni making machine rotating screw mechanism that dragged a worker’s hand into the hopper. It was discovered that had an existing electronic interlock (which was located on the lid of the hopper) been functional, it was likely to have prevented the incident. It had been disconnected. The Company pleaded guilty to a breach of the OH&S Act.
A joinery business failed to report two serious injuries to the WorkCover Authority of Victoria, one of which involved an amputation. Another employee spent two days in hospital after receiving a finger laceration at work. The employer was fined for failing to immediately report the incidents to the WorkCover Authority and for failing to preserve the respective incident sites.
The Company pleaded guilty and received a 12 month adjourned undertaking requiring it to pay $1,500 into a Court fund for the first incident and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and more than $2,500 in costs in relation to the second incident. This case highlights the importance of understanding the legal obligations on incident reporting and compliance.
It is important for employers to be aware of their obligations under Federal and state WHS laws & regulations, in addition to the many codes, guidelines and safety standards that may apply to your industry. Should your business not have a regular and thorough workplace audit safety and reporting system in place and understand the comprehensive legal requirements that the business is subject to, then you should obtain advice on how best to meet your work health and safety obligations and avoid costly and/or catastrophic lessons.