Worksafe has successfully prosecuted a company that provides welding, fabrication of products, repairing and maintaining stainless steel machines to the food and industrial sector.
On 1 December 2017, the offender instructed a labour hire employee and therefore is deemed an employee under the OHS Act 2004. The employee was instructed to collect 1 acetylene gas cylinder bottle and 1 oxygen gas cylinder bottle from a gas supplier. The gas cylinder bottles were loaded into a fully enclosed toolbox in the tray of the offenders Ute lying on their side.
There was a risk to the health and safety of persons collecting gas cylinder bottles, and to persons other than employees in the vicinity of the offender's vehicle, in that they could be seriously injured or killed by an explosion, if the gas cylinder bottles were loaded onto and transported in a vehicle that was not suitable.
It was necessary for the offender to have in place a system of work in which gas cylinder bottles were transported in a vehicle: These systems of work should have included:
The offender failed to have in place the necessary system of work for transportation of gas cylinders and failed to provide its employees with the necessary information, instruction and training to enable those persons to perform their work in a way that was safe and without risks to health.
The offender pleaded guilty to two charges.
The offender was with conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $175,000 on charge 1, and to $125,000 on charge two for a total effective fine of $300,000. Pursuant to s. 6AAA of the Sentencing Act 1991 it was declared that but for the plea of guilty, a total effective fine of $440,000 would have been imposed.
This is a timely reminder for employers to provide adequate information, instruction and training to their employees (contractors) to enable them to perform their work in way that is safe and without risks to health. Some of the training should include, but not limited to: legal duties under the OHS and Dangerous Goods legislation, some knowledge of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail and the Load Restraints Guide 2018 issued by the NTC.
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