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January 2020

Failure to provide and maintain a safe system of work

Failure to provide and maintain a safe system of work

WorkSafe Victoria v Orrcon Distribution Pty Ltd (2016)

Facts

On 28 August 2014, a labour hire worker of Orrcon Distribution Pty Ltd (Orrcon) was operating a bridge crane to move a load of steel at the workplace. The worker lowered the load of steel onto a pack of steel using the crane when the sling caught the corner of the pack, causing it to lift and dislodge. The pack fell onto another worker’s legs, trapping him against the steel packs he had been standing on.

WorkSafe Victoria alleged that the employer breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) for failing to:

  • provide a safe workplace;
  • properly train workers; and
  • properly supervise workers.

Judgment

The Court heard that the labour hire workers were not provided with onsite induction, including instruction in relation to relevant safe operating procedures at the workplace.

Orrcon acknowledged that it failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work that was, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to the health of its workers. Orrcon pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a penalty of $40,000 and to pay costs of $3,895.

Lesson

As an employer, you must ensure appropriate training is given to all workers, not just employees. In this case, the Court heard that the labour hire workers were not provided with onsite induction, whereas full-time employees were.

In addition, employees were not provided with annual refresher training and information on the operation of bridge cranes and associated tasks at the workplace. There was also inadequate supervision of both classes of worker in relation to adherence to safe operating procedures.

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