By Michael Selinger
The recent enforceable undertaking entered into by Boral highlights how tackling new and emerging risks in an industry can present as an attractive offering to a regulator.
Boral were involved in a serious incident in 2016, when bearing housing collapsed and crushed the legs of a worker employed by contractor, K&R Fabrications (W’Gong) Pty Ltd, at a Boral site.
The worker was involved in removing the backing plates when the gearbox bearing housing slid off its bearings and fell on the worker. K&R were convicted of failing to have in place an effective system of work to ensure that the bearing housings were restrained when the backing plates were removed.
Boral were also alleged to have breached the law, but SafeWork NSW accepted an enforceable undertaking in substitution for a prosecution. The enforceable undertaking, while committing nearly $1/2 million to improving Boral’s own safety systems, also included a commitment to tackle an industry issue of crystalline silica.
The enforceable undertaking confirmed that Boral would outfit a range of Boral trucks with crystalline silica safe practice awareness information for not less than 12 months. This action was designed to complement SafeWork NSW’s Crystalline Silica project by providing avenues for in situ advertising to target people in the industry working with materials containing some levels of crystalline silica. There would also be a commitment to inclusion of crystalline silica advice on relevant customer product sheets.
The approach taken by Boral and the regulator in this case demonstrates the ability of a positive safety outcome to be achieved following a serious incident which extends beyond the limited enterprises involved, to industry more broadly.