The Federal Court has dished out a $360,000 fine to a construction company after an incident took place on the company’s worksite in 2011 which resulted in the death of a worker.
A worker lost his life after he was struck by an out of control hi-rail vehicle during a rail construction project in Perth.
Other companies can learn from this incident about the importance of prioritising health and safety, no company wants to receive such hefty fines, which could in some cases be the end of the company.
According to reports the company built a rail vehicle that violated the OHS Act and had failed to ensure that safety was adhered to during the manufacturing stage and the use of hi-rail vehicles, the court heard.
The judgement, according to SafetyCulture.com.au read as follows:
“The need to remind the first and third respondents of the importance of constant vigilance in relation to workplace safety is particularly important, because the first and third respondents operate in an industry which on a daily basis requires their employees to carry out inherently dangerous activities or to operate, and work in the vicinity of, vehicles which have the propensity to put their lives at risk,” the judgement said.
“Constant vigilance was not present in the circumstances of this tragic case.
“The result was that a man lost his life.”
Companies that still fail to recognise the importance of safety at every stage of the work process are continuously finding themselves in hot water with the law but perhaps even worse than the legal wranglings and loss of income that companies must endure for their negligence, is the human suffering that workers are subjected to, sometimes fatally.
Apparently the federal government’s workplace safety statutory authority Comcoare welcomed the judgement because it served as a warning to other employers about the importance of putting health and safety first. Neil Quarmby from Comcare explained:
“Workplace tragedies have far reaching consequences and together we can work towards reducing the number of fatalities in Australian workplaces to zero,” Comcare regulatory operations group general manager Neil Quarmby said.
Quarmby went on to caution that the offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $484,000. The article on SafetyCulture.com.au also detailed another court case surrounding workplace health and safety that recently appeared in court,
The Federal court judgement comes less than a week after a Perth-based court ordered an aluminium company to pay a fine of $68,000 for violating the OHS Act, following a September 2009 workplace death. The company was also ordered to pay court costs amounting to $5,000.
Employers should never underestimate the importance of health and safety in the workplace and keep in mind that training is the vehicle through which health and safety is communicated to workers. For workers in the construction sector, one of the most high risk sectors in Oz, this safety training must take the form of The White Card Course.