In last month’s newsletter we provided six steps to deliver on your WHS due diligence obligations.
In recent times we have seen a trend from regulators in various Australian jurisdictions of a more strict enforcement of the penalties for breaches of safety legislation. There have been two category 1 charges brought against companies and individuals this year, 1 involving an electrocution resulting in death in a NSW lime quarry, and the second a crane fatality on a building site in the ACT.
In the NSW incident, the company admitted guilt and has been fined $900,000 plus costs, and the individual site manager fined $48,000. The ACT incident has not yet been to court, but of note is that the crane driver has been charged with manslaughter.
As Category 1 charges, prosecutors have alleged recklessness in both incidents, exposing the companies to the maximum fines allowable, and the officer’s involved to the prospect of gaol time. As discussed in last month’s blog, to avoid recklessness, we need to be able to demonstrate due diligence.
As an example, in 2017 SafeWork NSW conducted a blitz on forklift safety, in 2018, they have turned their attention to working at heights. Both hazards that are very relevant to the brewing industry. So if they turned up to your brewery, would they see documented evidence of systematic control being implemented to address these hazards?
The types of controls regarding forklifts would include:
- Selection and procurement of forklift equipment
- Training and qualifications of drivers
- Physical hazards such as blind spots in a high traffic area
- Operational issues such as carrying unbalanced loads
- Maintenance of forklift equipment, such as bald tyres
- Traffic management plans to protect pedestrians and other drivers
Some typical controls to be expected for working at height would be:
- Certified roof access systems and working at height equipment;
- Working at heights permits and plans for safely working at height;
- Training and qualifications for use of height access equipment
- Operation and maintenance of plant such as elevated work platforms
- Design considerations for safe access to equipment at height
- Evidence of systems for ladder safety
These are just two examples of due diligence in a couple of key safety hazard categories. Don’t wait for a regulator blitz, or even worse a regulator visit following a serious incident. Be proactive because if you’re reckless and there is a serious injury or fatality, the judicial message is you’ll be heavily fined and potentially jailed.
For more information on a proactive approach to safety, visit the IBASafe web page.