New WA WHS Law Enforced

29 May 2024 posted by Recovery Partners

The first charge of a new WA WHS law has been enforced by WorkSafe WA, taking legal action against four breaches made by businesses in the state. Similarly, a Victorian business has also been convicted and fined $40,000 after a worker was instructed to ignore a machine’s safeguard to clean it. 

First Breach
 
Details
 

The first breach occurred in April 2020, when an operator for Wesbeam’s Neerabup location was clearing out a blockage along a conveyor belt. While carrying out the task, his arm was dragged into an unguarded area, causing a serious injury. 

Penalties
 

Following this incident, Wesbeam Pty Ltd is the first business to faces charges under the new WA WHS law enforced for failing its responsibilities when in control of plant which ultimately caused harm to a worker.  The company will address the charges at Joondalup Magistrates Court on the 7th of June 2024, with the maximum penalty for this offence a $3.5 million fine.

Second and Third Breach
 
Details
 

The second breach occurred two years later in April 2022. A heavy diesel mechanic had his arm crushed when cleaning out an obstruction at a gold mine located west of Kalgoorlie. WorkSafe WA will allege that the serious injury occurred after the employee’s arm was crushed under an unguarded roller of a mobile stacker.

Penalties
 

Following the incident, MLG Oz Limited and Evolution Mining (Mungari) Pty Ltd have been charged with failing their duty to ensure the health and safety of the worker, resulting in serious harm. The companies will face Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court on the 24th of June 2024, with the maximum penalty if found guilty $3.5 million.

New WA WHS Law Enforced
Fourth Breach
 
Details
 

The fourth breach also occurred in April of 2022 when a man was allegedly involved in the removal of 41 meters of asbestos fencing between two properties in Beckenham, Western Australia.

Penalties
 

WorkSafe WA will allege that Justin John Collins carried out work that he was not authorised to do and didn’t hold an asbestos removal license. It was discovered that the breach had occurred after a fencing installer noticed pieces of asbestos on the ground of the properties and subsequently reported it to WorkSafe. The maximum penalty for this offence is $25,000 in fines.

Victorian Breach
 
Details
 

Similarly to the new WA WHS law enforced, a roofing manufacturer in Warrnambool has also been convicted and fined $40,000. Uniroll Roofing faced court after it was alleged a worker was instructed to circumvent a machine’s safeguard to clean it. During court proceedings, it was revealed that in April 2022, an employee who only worked at Uniroll Roofing for only a week was asked to operate a metal forming press. When operating the machinery, the new employee observed that the metal sheets had marks on them, so they stopped the machine to clean it. The worker alleged that when he was in the process of doing this, the company’s co-owner told him there was a better way to clean the machine, showing the worker how to bypass the safety guarding while the machine was still operating. Moments later, the cleaning instrument he was using got caught in one of the rollers, pulling his hand into the machine, resulting in his hand being crushed and two of his fingers being degloved.

Penalties
 

According to WorkSafe Victoria, on the 16th of May Uniroll Roofing Pty Ltd faced Warrnambool Magistrates Court and was sentenced after they ‘pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work and one charge of failing to provide employees with necessary information, instruction or training’. In the worker’s recovery, they were required to have multiple surgeries and were unable to return to full-time duties until August 2022 when they ceased working for the company. The business was fined $40,000 and was ordered to pay $4207 in costs.

WHS Responsibility of a PCBU
 

A safe and healthy workplace should be the goal of every employer/PCBU (persons conducting a business undertaking). The WHS rules and regulations require all PCBU to ensure that workers are not injured or harmed at work so far as reasonably practicable.

As a business owner, you are obligated to comply with the relevant workplace health and safety regulations in your field. PCBU’s who do not meet their WHS responsibilities may face severe penalties, including fines and possible jail time as well as increased compensation claims.

Recovery Partners helps both small and large Australian businesses take a more proactive approach to managing risks and hazards in your workplaces. With our assistance, you can protect your staff, meet your WHS obligations and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your WHSMS. We offer a wide range of services to help your business run safely and conscientiously. These services help to safeguard staff wellbeing, productivity and ultimately, profitability.

We maintain workplace safety and health with the assistance of our free Due Diligence Factsheet.

Our services are available nationwide. For more information about our services contact us.

Our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789) or email enquiries@rrp.com.au

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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 https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/