Safety improvements raising the bar

An international construction contractor headquartered in Sydney has completed $400,000 of work health and safety measures as part of an enforceable undertaking entered into with SafeWork NSW.

Following an incident where a worker sustained serious injury from being hit by a steel beam, Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd (formerly Brookfield Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd) agreed to undertake significant business safety improvements that would also benefit their industry and the wider community.

Headlining Multiplex’s achievements is their development of the Practical guide to the safe erection of steel structures, the principles of which have since been adopted as part of the Australian standard for structural steel fabrication and erection (AS/NZS 5131:2016). The guide was developed in consultation with the Australian Steel Institute, engineers and the construction workforce to bridge the gap between documented procedures and workplace practices.

Multiplex has also spent more than $100,000 on the evaluation and distribution of the guide across its organisation and the wider steel erection industry through the Australian Steel Association and the Australian Contractors Association. A training video summarising the detailed processes contained in the guide was also produced to help deliver safety awareness training for all workers and contractors in the steel erection industry.

Since the incident in January 2013, Multiplex has also spent over $50,000 on rectifications, which included developing a tool to conduct audits on structural steel erection work and updating their steel erection checklist.

Benefits to the community from the completion of the undertakings to SafeWork NSW include the funding of graduate scholarships at Wollongong and Newcastle University for work health and safety students.

Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd continues to promote the use of the guide to improve safety practices to benefit both the industry and wider community.

Read more about enforceable undertakings.

Oil company completes more than $800,000 of safety improvements after workplace incident

The largest oil company retail network in Australia has completed more than $800,000 of work health and safety undertakings after two workers were treated in hospital following an incident at the company’s Banksmeadow fuel terminal.

Since the incident in July 2013, Caltex Australia Petroleum Pty Ltd has spent more than $200,000 on rectifications at its Banksmeadow terminal and on its national terminal network. This included improvements to isolation standards, work procedures and training for permit to work, as well as management of change, emergency management, and delivering improved hazard awareness training for all workers and contractors.

In addition to these rectifications, Caltex committed more than $600,000 on a number of strategies to deliver wider benefits to the industry and the community.

These strategies included development of a mobile contractor safety management app to help businesses manage the health and safety of their workforce. The free Onsite Safety app enables businesses to connect with their workforce remotely through a smartphone or tablet. It includes checklists for activities such as working at heights, working with chemicals, electrical work, confined spaces, using plant and using vehicles on construction sites.

A series of webinars has also been produced, with industry experts speaking on topics such as managing organisational change, implementing drug and alcohol programs, developing process safety KPIs, and adopting the Global Harmonisation System requirements for classifying and labelling chemicals.

Benefits to the community include funding seven fire-fighters from Fire & Rescue NSW to undertake advanced petrochemical fire response training in Texas, USA. Caltex has also helped FRNSW develop e-learning courses to teach fire-fighters how to respond to incidents in the petrochemical industry.

Read more about enforceable undertakings.

Meat processor fined $375,000

A mid-North Coast meat processing business has been fined $375,000 over the death of a worker at its Frederickton plant.

The 28 year old worker died after he became pinned between a steel bin that was being carried by a forklift and a wall.

The incident occurred when the man, who was employed to undertake meat rendering and general plant duties at the processing plant, was using a forklift to remove empty steel bins from the rendering plant.

The worker was not licensed to operate a forklift and was not being supervised by a licensed forklift driver.

After moving a steel bin to the wall, the worker stopped the forklift on a sloping incline and applied the handbrake, but did not chock the wheels. He then walked between the front of the forklift and the wall, pushing and kicking the bin in an attempt to close the bin’s door.

The forklift’s handbrake suddenly released, pinning the man between the bin and the wall, causing fatal injuries.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined $375,000 in the District Court.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the risk of serious injury or death was obvious but the employer’s work health and safety systems were inadequate.

“Proper safety systems include providing workers with instruction and training in the safe use of forklifts, and providing wheel chocks on forklifts to prevent unintended movement.

“Other steps include implementing and enforcing a key register to restrict the use of forklifts to licensed operators only.

“Trainee forklift drivers should be supervised by a licensed driver and a risk assessment on the parking of forklifts on inclines should be undertaken.

“As a result of this totally preventable incident, a young family has lost its father and a small community has been left devastated.”

For more information, visit our forklift safety page or call 13 10 50.

Printer commits to $450,000 undertaking after forklift incident

A Sydney-based printing company has committed $450,000 to various work health and safety undertakings after a worker was hit by a forklift.

In lieu of prosecution, Offset Alpine Printing Pty Ltd entered an enforceable undertaking to deliver strategies that would give long-term, sustainable work health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community.

The injured worker was standing near his truck when he was struck by a forklift as the forklift driver attempted to load pallets onto the tray of the truck.

As a result of the incident, Offset Alpine Printing will spend $78,025 completing a traffic management plan at both its despatch dock at Lidcombe and its warehouse at Warwick Farm.

Another $209,162 has been earmarked to establish a uniform framework of policies that will help reduce incidents in key risk areas. Technology will be enhanced to improve identification of trends and issues, and increase automation of data entry, notifications and follow-ups.

The company has also committed $165,000 to a six-month forklift safety awareness campaign, which will include videos, public relations, posters, brochures, blog posts, infographics and social media updates.

Offset Alpine spent almost $50,000 in rectifications made as a result of the alleged contravention, including repainting safety walkways and stop signs, painting pedestrian crossings in the despatch yard, constructing a waiting area in the despatch dock for drivers, and designing an induction training program for contracted drivers.

Read the full undertaking.

What is an EU?

A mentor program, educational scholarships, best-practice due-diligence and workplace safety programs are some of the great outcomes of an enforceable undertaking completed recently.

Enforceable undertakings, or EUs as they are commonly known, are ‘the magical creatures of work health and safety law’, says Andrew Ball, a partner at global law firm DLA Piper.

EUs began in NSW in 2012 and, not surprisingly, interest in them is ‘skyrocketing’ – they offer businesses an alternative to prosecutions and fines when a serious incident occurs at their workplace.

An EU is a commitment that the behaviour that led to the alleged breach of the work health and safety laws has ceased and will not reoccur.

Invariably, successful EUs are creative and innovative; engage with the workplace, industry and community; bring about lasting changes that increase awareness of the importance of safety; and reduce the risk of harm in the future.

In 2013, a worker was injured while attempting to realign a roller on a conveyor belt approximately three metres above the ground, when he stepped out from the elevated work platform onto a waste bin and fell to the concrete floor. The incident was a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

In lieu of prosecution action, an EU was accepted by the employer, SUEZ. With an estimated cost of $200,000, highlights of the undertaking included a mentoring program between SUEZ and a contracting business, where knowledge and expertise in relation to health and safety were shared and an ongoing mentoring relationship was established.

A scholarship for a 10-week work placement was also negotiated with Newcastle University and led to full time employment for the student, along with a commitment from SUEZ for future student work placement opportunities.

SUEZ also developed a ‘Life Saving Rules’ program for its workers and enhanced its due diligence program to reinforce safety leadership within the organisation.

‘We made a conscious decision to learn from the experience and not take the easy way out,’ said Margaret Andrews, the company’s General Manager, Environment, Quality and Safety.

‘The initiatives were concrete, meaningful and challenging and have been a cornerstone to drive improvement in our safety performance.’

Find out more about enforceable undertakings.