On the 3rd of October 2019, a truck driver and sub-division supervisor were pinned by polyethylene pipes that fell from a truck upon efforts to unload. As restraints were being removed, pipes started to fall, resulting in a truck driver being pinned against the truck and the site supervisor helpless under 150kg of pipe. Both workers incurred serious injury with the supervisor unable to work for more than 7 months.
The WorkSafe investigation found that the pipes had been unsafely loaded and unloaded. The pipes had not been loaded in accordance with the Load Restraint Guide 2018 and the lifting slings supplied were damaged and unsafe for use. Furthermore, there was no policy or procedure in place to accommodate the safe unloading of vehicles and therefore no risk assessment conducted identifying the associated hazards to employees.
If you are uncertain of Load Restraint regulations or can identify that you do NOT have adequate policies and procedures in place, then we urge you to call us on 1800 577 515 or to contact us below for a free consult. We can equip you with the policies and procedures specific to your business and industry, we can show you how to train your employees in the correct processes, and/or we can do all of this for you.
In response to the breaches, the subdivision company approached the Regulator to refrain from a Judicial Review and instead entered a Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) Undertaking. The Regulator accepted the undertaking proposal, as they determined it to be more beneficial and sustainable in consideration of long-term improvements and effectiveness for both the business, industry, and local community. This was by no means an ‘easier’ or ‘less costly’ initiative for the business, having spent approximately $474,500 on undertaking efforts.
WHS Undertaking Verse Judicial Review
For those that do not know, a WHS Undertaking is a legally binding agreement from a person conducting a business to implement health and safety initiatives. The alternative is usually a Judicial Review (court proceedings) in which a court can enforce a mandatory injunction, requiring a certain act or restitution prior to recommencement of a business activity. An undertaking can be proposed before or after a Judicial Review has commenced. If accepted, efforts will be made to see the Judicial Review discontinued. Businesses will only find themselves within this predicament if they have breached the Work Health & Safety Act 2012.
WHS Undertaking Efforts
Within the WHS Undertaking committed to by the business at fault, contributions were made to the workplace, industry, and community by:
- Hiring an external consultant to conduct an audit of health and safety policies and procedures, committing to implementing any recommendations and reviewing these internally on a scheduled basis.
- Establishing a safety committee
- Upskilling management and supervisors, and implementing toolbox meetings and presentations that focus upon WHS.
- Implementing an online induction program
- Improving safety processes and identifying high risk activities
- Issuing an alert throughout all groups owned or associated with the business.
- Increasing policies and procedures in relation to communicative efforts with contractors, suppliers, and transport companies in consideration of delivery requirements and potential WHS hazards.
- Sponsoring a Northern and Southern Tasmania Civil Contractors Federation Forum
- Assisting in the development of a ‘Secure Loads, Loading and Unloading’ Tas Tafe unit, using the incident to educate others of associated risks.
- Allowing the developed unit to be presented at future WorkSafe Conferences.
- Developing and promoting a program with the Launceston City Council that increases awareness of road safety and construction sites.
As demonstrated in this article, it is in your best interest to remain compliant within WHS legislation, avoiding breaches and the repercussions involved. If you have any WHS concerns or regulation queries, we encourage you to call or book a free consult with Assurance HR Management today.