In a recent case before a WA court, a business has plead guilty to a series of safety breaches that resulted in serious injury to an employee due to a failure in a pressurized hose.
A worker suffered serious injury while unloading chemicals when one of the unloaders hoses ruptured under pressure, causing burns and severe lung damage.
A recent independent audit of the safety and compliance operations at the business had highlighted potential deficiencies and had recommended that all pipes and fittings be thoroughly inspected monthly to ensure the risk of failure was appropriately managed. In addition to the recommendations by the independent auditor the business had also identified the risk of harm that arose from potential hose failure and had implemented procedures that required the testing of hoses every three months.
Despite having the process requiring quarterly testing, and receiving advice that the business should undertake monthly inspections of all hoses and fittings, the hose that failed and ultimately injured the worker showed extensive visible damage including exposed steel braiding.
This case highlights the importance of implementation and action. It is simply not good enough to do a risk assessment, write a procedure and then put it on a shelf to collect dust. Discussing the risk and writing procedures does nothing to reduce or control the risk if it is not also complimented with action.
“In this case the business participated in an independent audit process, recognising that all businesses can benefit from external advice and assistance, particularly in the area of safety and compliance, however, by not fully engaging in the process, and adopting the recommendations the result has been injury and fines” outlined ACAPMA’s Elisha Radwanowski.
“It is a shame that the business was dedicated enough to ask for advice, but stopped short of actually ensuring that the recommendations were implemented in practice. With safety, close enough is not good enough. Identified controls need to be fully implemented across the business, not simply addressed in dusty procedures manuals” continued Elisha.
“This should serve as a reminder to all businesses to ensure that planned controls are actually being used in the workplace. PPE can’t protect anyone in a cupboard, it needs to be used to protect staff. General damage to controls, guards, equipment, fixtures and fittings due to ware and tare won’t be found unless management and staff do regular hazard walks and inspections. Essentially policies won’t deliver safety outcomes, practices will” concluded Mrs Radwanowski.