On 5 August 2014 a boilermaker for a Brisbane company, was undertaking welding and steel grinding activities in a stairwell. He placed a canvas bag containing, pressurised spray paint cans in close proximity to the work area. The canvas bag caught alight and the spray paint cans heated and exploded in a sudden and large combustion. The boilermaker and two other workers who came to assist sustained burns. The worker was instructed in and had signed his employer’s safe work procedure. The safe work procedure identified hazards and risks associated with hot work and nominated that flammable and combustible items were not to be in the vicinity of hot work activities. The worker failed to follow the procedure.
The worker was fined $2 500 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1080.70. He was also required to complete a work health and safety (WHS) training course within 7 months. No conviction was recorded.
He could consider himself lucky that the maximum penality $150k was not applied by the courts.
Importance of Documentation and Training
This is a great example of a business carrying out their responsibility as the employer by having the correct procedures in place, that identify all associated risks and ensuring workers are aware of these risks, but the worker chose to not follow these.
Health and Safety Management System is not implemented in a workplace to just meet legislative requirements, they are in place to PROTECT THE WORKERS. No one wants to injure someone, we all want to return home safe from a days work. Polices, procedures, risk assessments, registers, training, toolbox talks, incident reporting etc are in place to help identify risks, reduce or eliminate the risks and ensure YOU as the worker return to your family.
Many workers are not aware that safety is not just the Employers responsibility, it is EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY and non-compliance can carry heavy penalties and in extreme cases jail time.
Royal Adelaide Show ride tragedy:
A safety inspection company and its engineer boss who cleared a Royal Adelaide Show ride on which a girl died will face a landmark health and safety prosecution — but not criminal manslaughter charges.
Charges have been laid against Safe is Safe Pty Ltd and its New South Wales director over the death of eight-year-old.
This offence is a “Category 1” offence.
Example of penalties
There are three categories of offences for failing to comply with a health and safety legislation. The maximum penalties for each are listed below.
Category 1 – most serious breaches, for a duty holder who recklessly endangers a person to risk of death or serious injury.
- Corporation: $3.0m
- Individual as a PCBU or an officer: $600k / 5 years jail
- Individual e.g. worker: $300k / 5 years jail
Category 2 – failure to comply with a health and safety duty that exposes a person to risk of death, serious injury of illness.
- Corporation: $1.5m
- Individual as a PCBU or an officer: $300k
- Individual e.g. worker: $150k
Category 3 – failure to comply with a health and safety duty.
- Corporation: $500k
- Individual as a PCBU or an officer: $100k
- Individual e.g. worker: $50k.
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