An employer was recently penalised for an OH&S breach by the
Regulator, irrespective of the fact that an incident had not
actually occurred. The Company was ordered to pay almost $10,000 in
fines and costs by the Magistrates Court. The company pleaded
guilty to failing to properly guard their salting tumblers.
This prosecution followed a visit conducted by a WorkCover
Authority of Victoria Inspector in October 2013, who discovered
that there was inadequate perimeter guarding surrounding the
tumblers, which exposed employees to the danger of the
machine's chain drives, belts and pullies. The company was
subsequently fined, without conviction for having breached two (2)
sections of the State OH&S Act.
A pasta making company was fined $50,000 following an incident
where a worker's hand was caught inside the hopper of a
cannelloni making machine rotating screw mechanism that dragged a
worker's hand into the hopper. It was discovered that had an
existing electronic interlock (which was located on the lid of the
hopper) been functional, it was likely to have prevented the
incident. It had been disconnected. The Company pleaded guilty to a
breach of the OH&S Act.
A joinery business failed to report two serious injuries to the
WorkCover Authority of Victoria, one of which involved an
amputation. Another employee spent two days in hospital after
receiving a finger laceration at work. The employer was fined for
failing to immediately report the incidents to the WorkCover
Authority and for failing to preserve the respective incident
The Company pleaded guilty and received a 12 month adjourned
undertaking requiring it to pay $1,500 into a Court fund for the
first incident and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and more than
$2,500 in costs in relation to the second incident. This case
highlights the importance of understanding the legal obligations on
incident reporting and compliance.
It is important for employers to be aware of their obligations
under Federal and state WHS laws & regulations, in addition to
the many codes, guidelines and safety standards that may apply to
your industry. Should your business not have a regular and thorough
workplace audit safety and reporting system in place and understand
the comprehensive legal requirements that the business is subject
to, then you should obtain advice on how best to meet your work
health and safety obligations and avoid costly and/or catastrophic
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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