In a recent case a business has been the second business charged over the same safety breach involving a forklift which resulted in a leg crush injury to a subcontractor.  In addition to the subcontractors business being issued with fines for not ensuring the safe operations of the facility that they had directed their employee to work at, the primary business has now also received breach penalties associated with the incident.  The penalties have not been issued for a lack of safety systems, processes or personnel, rather the penalties have been issued due to the business not confirming that qualified safety personnel had appropriately implemented the existing safety systems and processes.

The packing business engaged a “very experienced and qualified” manager for the plant, who was instructed to implement the businesses detailed WHS systems at the new site.  The manager did not implement the WHS system, and critically, the business did not take steps to ensure that the implementation occurred.

The business pled guilty, resulting in a 40% reduction of the fine ultimately issued, down to $90,000.

The take away from a case like this cannot be clearer; the business has a responsibility to understand risks, implement appropriate controls and to regularly review risks and controls.  In this case the business had invested heavily in understanding the risks associated with their operations, and had developed a comprehensive WHS system to address these risks and control them.  They had even appointed a qualified manager and specifically instructed that the WHS system be implemented at the new site.  However, by not checking up and ensuring that the manager did indeed follow the instruction and use the resources to implement the WHS system, the business fell short of its obligation to review the risks and controls within the context of the actual workplace.

The message for all businesses is ‘close the loop’.  Understand situation, assess risks, develop controls, implement controls, review risks and controls in situ, repeat.

Here to Help

ACAPMA members are reminded that the ACAPMA Employment Professionals are available to assist with all employment matters.  Members can email employment@acapma.com.au or call 1300 160 270.

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of the ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals its free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $810 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR and IR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM/IR), Executive Manager:  Employment and Training, ACAPMA