In a recent Western Australian prosecution, the operations manager of a roofing company was prosecuted and fined $7,500.00 after a worker fell about 5 metres, through a skylight.
The worker suffered serious injuries, and was lucky not to be killed.
The operations manager, Charles Farmer, was prosecuted under section 20(1)(b) of the Occupational safety and Health Act, as an employee who “failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work, and by that failure caused serious harm to a person“.
According to the prosecution summary, although Mr Farmer had identified the skylights on the existing portal frame roof, he did not ensure that a safe working procedure was in place that required the workers to use a fall injury prevention system.
You can access the prosecution summary HERE.
If you would like information about employee obligations for safety and health, I have developed an online training program, and you can find out the details at the link below:
Online training programs
For anyone trying to work their way through due diligence in the context of occupational safety and health, I have put together a short 8 and half minute primer with a few ideas.
I hope you find it useful.
Nicholson v Pymble No 1 (Inspector Nicholson v Pymble No 1 Pty Ltd & Molinara (no 2)  NSWIRComm 151) is not strictly speaking a contractor safety management case. However, it does involve a contracting relationship, but more importantly, it builds on the issues of “control” that we looked at in the last presentations.
Pymble had engaged a contractor to carry out construction work at the premises, and there were a number of allegations that the construction site was unsafe. Mr Molinara was a director of Pymble and lived in South Australia.
Pymble and Molinara were effectively charged on the basis that they were both (relevantly) “persons” with control of a premises being used by people as a place of work, and they failed to ensure that the premises were safe and without risk to health.
The case turned on whether Pymble and/or Molinara had relevant control.
You can see a short video presentation about the case here.
Stratton v Van Driel Limited is the second case in our contractor safety management series.
It is a somewhat older decision, having been handed down in 1998, but useful in that it looks at a narrow issue that is very important in the context of contractor safety management: Control.
In 1995 Mr Baum, a roof plumber was seriously injured when he fell down a ladder. Mr Baum was employed by Signal & Hobbs, who in turn had been engaged by Van Driel Limited, to do work on the new Dandenong Club in Dandenong, Victoria.
The essence of the charges against Van Driel was that it had not done everything Reasonably Practicable to provide a safe system of work, in that it had not managed the risks associated with working on the roof.
Van Driel defended the charges on the basis that they did not have relevant control over the way an independent contractor did their work.
You can access the video presentation of the case here.
I have just finished finalising a presentation for a case involving the death of a worker employed by a subcontractor that was 2 companies removed from the Principal. The case involved the prosecution of the Principal in respect of a fatality.
Earlier this year I prepared a post and presentation on the Hillman v Ferro Con (SA) decision, which also involved the death of a worker employed by a contractor. You can access the blog post and video presentation here.
Contractor safety management seems to be an ongoing struggle for a lot of businesses, so I thought that I would do a series looking at a number of cases that examine the issues around contractor safety management. At the end of the series I will try to bring together a number of the issues raised to see if we can’t structure some key guiding principles.
At this stage, I am planning a series of 10 or 11 video presentations looking at some of the key cases across a number of jurisdictions over the last few years.
The first case in the series is Nash v Eastern Star Gas, a recent decision of the New South Wales Industrial Court which was handed down on 6 September 2013. You can access the blog post and video presentation here.
I hope you enjoy the series, and I look forward to any comments or feedback.
In August 2009, Bruce Austin a working director of a small business, The Saver Guys, died from head injuries after he was hit by a length of pipe that was being extracted from the ground.
Mr Austin’s business had been contracted by another entity, Applied Soil Technology Pty Ltd. The relevant work was being overseen by Austerberry Directional Drilling Services Pty Ltd, who had in turn been engaged by Eastern Energy Australia Ltd on behalf of a related corporation, Eastern Star Gas Ltd.
At the time of the accident, Mr Austin and others were trying to recover a blocked pipeline from under the ground.
Although a number of entities were prosecuted and convicted in relation to the fatality, this case looked at the safety management arrangements in place between Eastern Star Gas and Austerberry Directional Drilling. The case provides some useful insights into the expectations placed on businesses removed to an extent from the conduct of the physical work by a contractor. It also demonstrates how an organisations’ own, documented safety management systems (in this case a contractor safety management system) can be used to demonstrate that the organisation is not meeting its obligations.
You can access a copy of the decision here, and the video presentation here.
References in the Presentation:
Hillman v Ferro Con (SA)
In the past few weeks I have been asked to do presentations and share my views about the legacy of Piper Alpha in this, the 25th anniversary year of the disaster.
For me, the positive legacy is the advancement in safety regulation, engineering and “safety in design” that has seen the improvement of the physical safety of high hazard workplaces. Safety in design has also improved the “survivability” of disasters so that when accidents to occur, their consequences are better mitigated.
The ongoing disappointment, however, is the persistent failure of management oversight and assurance to properly understand if health and safety risks are being managed. This is a failure that has played out in every major accident inquiry since Piper Alpha and continues to undermine effective safety management.
You can see a video presentation of these ideas and concepts here.
This is a case I have looked at before, and often use in management training to help explain the concept of reasonably practicable, and the relationship between reasonably practicable and the hierarchy of controls.
I was prompted to post it following the release of Safe Work Australia’s guidance material on reasonably practicable.
The case involved the prosecution of Transpacific Industries following a fatality in 2009. In an earlier, almost identical incident, Transpacific had responded to a breach of its procedures with what the Court described as “robust disciplinary action“. When the repeat incident occurred in 2009 the question that was argued was whether the earlier disciplinary action was a “sufficient response“: Was it reasonably practicable? You can access the video discussion of the case here, and a copy of the case here.
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Over the next few weeks we will be adding presentations and briefing papers to our online library. If you would like information about how to access that information, just click on the STE logo in the right hand column.