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Company penalised for unsafe work conditions

Editorial

Tru-Coat Pty Ltd was recently penalised by the Industrial Court for its failure to implement safe work practices at its workplace. Tru-Coat was fined $80,000 plus legal fees after a 22-year-old worker suffered severe crush injuries and multiple broken bones to both legs.

The worker was injured in July 2012 while operating an overhead crane to turn steel beams on a trestle table. The qualified dogman was injured when beams fell on him when he moved them. Tru-Coat had failed to ensure that at least two people undertook the task - one person to operate the crane while another serving as a spotter to direct the movement of the beams.

Following the prosecution, SafeWork SA’s Executive Director, Bryan Russell reminded companies about the need to be vigilant in managing workplace safety and risks. He explained that most workplace injuries could be avoided if people worked together to make sure no one was placed in unsafe situations.

He also reminded business owners and operators that unsafe practices and failure to ensure work health and safety can result in legal action and prosecution with severe penalties imposed by the courts for parties found guilty.

Workplaces can easily achieve high levels of safety by ensuring frequent site inspections to identify and address risks, consulting with workers, providing training and supervision, as well as implementing and reviewing systems of work.

Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke said the defendants’ response to the incident was prompt and the company immediately undertook a thorough hazard identification and risk assessment for the lifting process.

The court imposed a fine of $120,000, reduced to $80,000 for the defendant’s early guilty plea and contrition.

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