By Michael Selinger
SafeWork NSW has successfully prosecuted a director of a cleaning chemicals manufacturer for permanently scarring an employee with highly corrosive acid that splashed onto his skin.
The company, B&J Industries, failed to ensure that the worker was provided with personal protective equipment.
SafeWork NSW reported that the worker migrated to Australia on a temporary work visa and had only been working at the company for 2 days. The worker was exposed to an acetic acid spill which permanently scarred his skin.
The director was fined $40,000 for failing to exercise due diligence.
In this case, the worker did not speak English as his first language and there appeared to be a failure to ensure that he properly understood the work process.
SafeWork NSW has stated that in response to the concern held for migrant workers, it has developed translated webinars, YouTube videos and written resources to help better inform migrant workers and keep them safer while they are at work.
Lessons for employers
It is important to assess the nature of your workforce and whether there are vulnerable workers, such as migrants who have limited English skills, or young or new workers such as apprentices. Comprehensive training, instruction and additional supervision (including a buddy) is often required to ensure that the worker is not put at risk.