Fatal accident highlights lack of health and safety controls

The Gisborne District Court recently fined a transport operator $80,000 and ordered him to pay $100,000 in compensation for the death of a contractor who was tragically killed during his first day working for Hawke Equipment Limited.

garbage-17541_1920Mr James Walter Beau Thompson, who headed Hawke’s log operations in Gisborne at the time of the accident, plead guilty under the Health and Safety in Employment Act (now replaced by the Health and Safety at Work Act).

The fatal accident occurred in February 2014 when Dallas Wayne Hickey, the victim, was driving a truck and trailer unit to transport logs from Puketoro Station to Eastland Port. Mr Hickey exited the cab while still in motion and then became trapped under the rear wheel of the rig where he suffered severe injuries leading to his death.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation revealed that Mr Thompson failed to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Hickey’s safety, such as providing adequate health and safety training and a comprehensive induction where Mr Thompson was responsible for ensuring employees are familiar with the vehicle and the forestry site.

During sentencing, the District Court Judge stated that Mr Thompson “is not a person who should be in the [log transport] industry.” WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart emphasised how this tragic case clearly illustrates the importance of providing adequate training and induction processes, as these are necessary in contributing to the health and safety of workers.

Source: WorkSafe New Zealand

Hungry Jack’s breaches work health and safety laws


Hungry Jack’s has been fined AUD$90,000 after failing to call an ambulance to treat one of its employees who fell in an open vat of cooking oil while at work. Magistrate Michael Ardlie, in his judgement, stated “as an employer it was responsible for the employee’s safety and it should have arranged for proper medical treatment.”

The incident occurred in June 2012 when the injured employee, Dylan Robeson, was working the graveyard shift when asked to filter cooking oil from the deep fryers. After filtering two fryers, Robeson slipped and fell into the open top of the mobile unit, which was filled with hot oil. The temperature of the oil at the time ranged between 135C and 149C, leaving Robeson with third degree burns to 10 per cent of his body.

Hungry Jack’s pleaded guilty to one count of violating occupational health and safety laws. The company admitted that an external machine was required to filter the oil because the filtering component of the deep fryer was broken. Also, even though the external machine had a lid, it had to be kept off in order to be used, exposing the employee to a greater risk of harm.

Although the staff at the time helped Robeson by running cold water over his injuries, the restaurant manager failed to call an ambulance. Eventually Robeson called his father on his mobile, who then came to the store to take his son to the hospital. The magistrate expressed that “the first and immediate call ought to have been to an ambulance … Hungry Jack’s cannot discharge its duty of care to the father of the employee.”

As a result of the incident, Hungry Jack’s has committed to spending nearly AUD$5.3 million to replace all current fryers across Australia with self-filtering ones.

As a part of Australian work health and safety laws, employers owe a primary duty of care to provide and maintain a safe work environment. Also, employers have a duty to prepare, maintain and implement an emergency plan for each workplace. This plan must outline procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency. This includes medical treatment and various means of notifying emergency services.

Contact GRC Solutions today for more information about out work health and safety online compliance training courses.

Source: The Advertiser

Employee receives AUD$2.2 million in compensation for wet weather slip

work health and safety

Last December a security guard received $2.2 million in compensation fees, after sustaining a serious lower back injury from a wet weather slip at his place of work, the Port Botany container terminal.

The man, who was injured nearly 10 years ago, fell as he entered the gatehouse – a demountable hut held up on steel beams – where he and other guards were posted.

The court heard the gatehouse lacked a grab-rail for guards to lean or rest on; an awning to prevent water pooling on rainy days; and an intermediate step between the pavement and the entrance to the structure.

Justice Stephen Campbell of the Supreme Court of NSW held that an awning and an intermediate step would have been sufficiently reasonable precautions against the risk of slipping. He stated that a grab-rail was a possible alternative, but that placing an intermediate step between the pavement and the entrance to the gatehouse would have been ideal.

The guard’s employer and site’s occupier were found to have separately failed their duty to monitor and maintain the gatehouse as a suitable place of work, the court determined.

The negligence resulting in the man’s injuries were two-fold, the court found. First, the site’s occupiers had failed to install the necessary safety precautions to reduce the risk of slipping on rainy days. Second, the employer had failed to petition the occupier to make the relevant renovations.

The court arrived at the $2.2 million sum by taking into account the injuries suffered by the security guard, the psychological problems and chronic pain he endured and the man’s subsequent incapacity to obtain meaningful employment due to these ongoing issues.

Accordingly, the site occupiers were ordered to pay just over $1.3 million, with his employer footing the remaining $900,000.

This case demonstrates the need for businesses to have proper reporting and monitoring procedures in place, relating to workplace health and safety.

Does your organisation understand and comply with WHS/OHS laws? Speak to GRC Solutions today about our Work Health and Safety courses for more information.

Source: Workplace OHS

Have you considered effective workplace behaviour training ahead of the festive season?

festive season

With the festive season just around the corner your organisation should have your end of year Christmas party locked in. Corporate Christmas parties are organised to boost employee morale, reward staff and improve employee relationships. Instead, recent times have seen more of these yearly celebrations resulting in costly sexual harassment litigation.

Now is the best time to implement a diversity and equality compliance training program if you haven’t already. If you already have a Code of Conduct or Workplace Behaviour program in place, you are on track and should consider running your employees through a refresher course.

The festive season’s high social aspects make it particularly prone to unfortunate workplace behaviour incidents, particularly at external venues where alcohol is present. Corporate functions taking place outside of the office with a relaxed atmosphere make it easy for staff to lose their bearings. As a result, staff are unable to distinguish between inappropriate and normally acceptable office behaviour.

Regardless of where the event is held, corporate celebrations are considered a work activity under workplace-related legislation and employers will be liable. Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of all employees at any work-related function just as they are when employees are carrying out their day-to-day activities. It is the employer’s responsibility to take steps to prevent inappropriate conduct from occurring whether through online compliance or face-to-face training.

Training staff so that they know their rights and abide by your workplace code of conduct is the best preventative measure. The consequences of non-compliance should also be laid out clearly.

In 2012, 71% of managers reported having to discipline staff over violence, discrimination and harassment at their Christmas party. On average, sexual harassment settlements cost between $15,000 and $25,000 in Australia, not to mention the huge impact of reputational damage.

Safeguard your organisation today with an effective Diversity and Equality and Work Health and Safety compliance training program.

GRC Solutions can also provide customised Code of Conduct training for your organisation.

New WHS laws see first director charged

work health and safety

An ACT company director has become the first officer of a corporation charged under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.

The charges follow an incident in which a truck driver died from an electric shock in 2012, says a Norton Rose Fulbright report.

The director has been charged under the ACT WHS Act for failing to exercise due diligence to ensure Kenoss Contractors complied with its WHS duties and failing to comply with his health and safety duty, the report says. He faces a potential maximum penalty of $300,000.

Although he has been charged in connection with Kenoss Contractors, the accused was not a director of this company, but a director of a related company, the report adds.

The case goes to trial in December. The director has already pleaded not guilty in an earlier mention of the case last week.

Kenoss Contractors has also been charged with breaching the ACT WHS Act in connection with the same incident. However, the company has gone into liquidation and the court will need to determine if the prosecution can go ahead, the report noted.

Since this report, the court has decided the prosecution of the liquidated company can proceed. The case will be heard at the same time as the director’s case, according to The Canberra Times.

The corporation faces a potential maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

Source: National Safety Council of Australia