In March 2013, an employee of Hume Doors& Timber was injured when he cut the straps securing a 19-tonne load of timber. WorkCover NSW alleged that Hume Doors & Timber failed to discharge their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) by not ensuring the safety of its workers.
The employee was injured when the load shifted and knocked him to the ground after he turned to walk away. Hume Doors & Timber avoided prosecution by entering into an enforceable undertaking with WorkCover NSW.
Legally binding agreements
When an incident occurs in the workplace, WorkCover NSW undertakes an investigation. As a result of the investigation, WorkCover may decide that no further action is required, to seek an enforceable undertaking (as is the case in this story), or for more serious matters, to pursue legal prosecution.
It’s important to note that an enforceable undertaking is legally binding and failure to complete the agreed undertaking can result in financial penalty. The maximum penalty for failure to comply is $250,000, and WorkCover NSW may seek to prosecute the original breach.
Included in the agreement
The estimated cost of the enforceable undertaking for Hume Doors & Timber is over $385,000. The undertaking includes the following valuable initiatives for both the workers and the community in general:
- Facilitate an English in the Workforce training course. Using an external training provider, the course will be conducted over 12 weeks for 20 employees. It is envisaged that increasing the level of English comprehension of workers with English as a second language will enable them to actively participate in maintaining a safe working environment.
- Provide a Load Restraint refresher training course. All staff will participate annually in a program designed to ensure they understand the importance of restraining a load and the general principals of this important topic.
- Provide a Global Positioning System for all drivers. This new system will alert branch managers if a driver has not been heard from or has not moved for 20 minutes. The aim of this initiative is to eliminate driver isolation and increase safety for all drivers.
- Install safety notice boards in every section of each site of Hume Doors & Timber. The notice boards will be a focal point for safety information and will contain copies of toolbox talks, safety alerts and policies.
- Ensure that the website contains all safety resources. The Hume Doors & Timber website will become a central storage location for all of the company’s safety information so that it can be accessed by employees, contractors and customers.
- Training for supervisors and leading hands. Training will be conducted on a variety of work health and safety issues for all supervisors and leading heads.
- Community work health and safety communication. In collaboration with the Cronulla Sharks National Rugby League team, Hume Doors &Timber will raise work health and safety awareness by communicating key messages relating to the importance of work health and safety to a national audience.
- Best practice machine guarding in the timber industry. A printed manual and PowerPoint presentation outlining the best practices for machine guarding in the timber industry will be created in conjunction with the Timber Trade Industry Association.
- Training and work experience opportunities. Unemployed people and students interested in a career in logistics or manufacturing will have the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge through a program of training and work experience offered by Hume Doors &Timber.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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