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January 2020

Failure to adequately supervise workers

Failure to adequately supervise workers

Inspector Christensen v MVM Rail Pty Ltd (2013)

Facts

One worker was killed and other workers were seriously injured when they were struck by a rail panel while it was being installed. The workers were put at risk while installing the rail panels due to MVM Rail’s failure to provide its workers with adequate supervision. There were approximately 10 employees onsite at the time, some of whom contracted workers.

The person MVM Rail alleged to have appointed as a supervisor did not consider himself to be in that position, and as a consequence did not:

  • undertake a risk assessment in relation to the work; or
  • take an active role in the decision-making processes needed to resolve the problem of panel misalignment.

Judgment

The Court found the employer guilty on two counts in relation to this incident and fined the employer a total of $160,000, which was divided as follows:

  • a fine of $66,000 for failing to provide adequate supervision to its employees; and
  • a fine of $94,000 for failing to ensure that people other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety while on the employer’s worksite.

Lessons

This case demonstrates the importance of providing adequate supervision to workers and ensuring that employees and others at the worksite are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

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