Worker crushed by 1.5-tonne electrical switch board

Posted on 21/02/2019, 10:23 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A man has been killed after being crushed by a 1.5-tonne electrical switchboard at a construction site. 

 
The 31-year-old electrician and two others were moving the switchboard into position for installation at the new $30 million Palmerston Police Station on Wednesday morning when he was pinned, NT WorkSafe said.
 
He died in the Royal Darwin Hospital.
 
NT WorkSafe has started an investigation and has issued a non-disturbance notice, preventing access to the switchboard room while it continues.
 
Sitzler's director Michael Sitzler said the company was devastated by the incident.
 
"Our thoughts are focused on the worker and his family at this stage," he said.
 
The family had been flown up from interstate and workers on the site had also been offered support, Mr Sitzler said.
 
He said he would cooperate fully with NT WorkSafe's investigation into the incident.
 
"WorkSafe attended the scene yesterday after the incident was notified to them … they've done a preliminary investigation and yes we are just fully cooperating with what they require."
 
Source: ABC News

Accident costs family farm $80,000

Posted on 20/02/2019, 10:43 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A family-owned farm has been slapped with $80,000 in penalties over an accident that injured a contractor, the latest instance in a series of workplace accidents to have hit the farm in recent years.

 
WorkSafe Victoria said in a statement that Covino Farms Pty Ltd had been fined over the December 2016 accident, in which a female contractor was struck from behind by a forklift carrying crates of lettuce.
 
It said that the 50-year-old contractor was required to use the same corridor as forklifts in order to access a nearby room.
 
As a result of the accident, she sustained a fractured pelvis, dislocated shoulder, bruising and scarring, and has been unable to continue to work in the same role, the regulator said.
 
The Sale Magistrates’ Court found the Gippsland farm guilty of failing to take reasonable steps to provide a workplace free of health and safety risks. In addition to the fine, it was also ordered to pay $4,573 in costs.
 
“Forklifts and pedestrian workers should be able to safely co-exist where reasonably practicable control measures are in place; however, when they are not, the consequences are often severe,” said Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe’s executive director of health and safety.
 
“A traffic management plan, which includes the physical separation of forklifts and people, is essential and, in this case, would have avoided a worker receiving debilitating injuries.
 
“Like all workers, contractors have every right to return home safely at the end of the day, so employers must ensure they are provided with a safe working environment.”
 
According to the agency, employers should ensure a number of measures are put in place for staff working at sites where forklifts are used, including:
 
* Providing all workers with appropriate induction and training on the work they are to be involved in, and that a register of training and induction is maintained on file.
* Putting in place a traffic management plan for pedestrians and powered mobile plant and that it is reviewed and updated as appropriate.
* Separating pedestrians from moving machinery and put in place an effective communication system between operators, transport contractors and ground staff.
* Ensuring adequate signage is in place and barriers are erected where appropriate.
* Identifying and controlling visibility issues, particularly if lighting is poor.
* Ensuring workers operating equipment where a High Risk License is required, such as a forklift, hold a current licence.
* If undertaking training, a person should actively be supervised by a person who holds a current licence.
* Regularly inspecting and maintaining machinery and vehicles, with work carried out by a suitably qualified person.
 
It is not the first time that Covino Farms has faced court over a workplace accident. Two separate accidents in 2015 resulted in combined penalties worth $85,000 being issued to the farm.
 
In one incident, an employee stepped into an open drain base, while in a separate accident, an employee was run over by a spinach seeder.
 
Following those incidents, where the judgments were handed down in June 2017, Covino Farms issued a statement accepting the local court’s verdict.
 
“WorkSafe Victoria investigated two incidents that occurred on Covino Farms Gippsland property, in January and February 2015,” the statement, posted on its website, said.
 
“Covino Farms regrets the fact that the accidents happened and has since reiterated its commitment to workplace safety practices to ensure the welfare of all its employees.
 
“Both the injured employees made a full recovery and returned to work.”
 
It added: “Covino Farms is fully committed to the health and safety of its workers and in the enhancement of our processes and systems. We have since made improvements in our OH&S systems and will continue to invest in our workers’ welfare.”
 
Covino Farms declined to comment “at this time”.
 
Source: My Businesses

Coroner hands down findings in worksite death

Posted on 16/02/2019, 7:29 AM by Gary Willcox
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In the end it was impossible for the coronial court to say what caused the fatal failure of bolts holding the concrete boom as it swung over the heads of workers. When the boom fell that morning, shortly after being serviced, it killed a young man named Ben Catanzariti, three weeks into the job and only 21 years old. "It's been six years, six months and 25 days since the preventable death of our son Ben, 21 years old," his mother Kay Catanzariti said on Friday, her voice competing with jack hammers from a nearby work site. "Ben just went to work and was killed on the 21st July 2012." "It's a human right to go to work and come home alive. It's not a war zone, it's not a death sentence." On Friday, findings in a long awaited inquest into the man's death were handed down in the ACT Coroner's Court. The coroner said it was not possible on the evidence to say what caused the bolts on the boom that day to fail. It was a similar conclusion reached by prosecutors years earlier, who abandoned a criminal prosecution of the company in the face of multiple reports suggesting various reasons for why the boom failed. The inquest heard how witnesses reported hearing a loud crack before the concrete pouring boom that had been sweeping across the site fell hard and fast toward scattering the people in hi vis. The boom hit three workers. It struck Mr Catanzariti on the back of the head and fractured his skull, killing him at the Kingston site. It emerged that there were fatal weaknesses in the bolts securing the boom to the machine. But what caused the bolts to fail was an ongoing controversy, and one left unsolved. Experts had provided multiple different opinions in separate reports, some commissioned by various parties. And in the end, the ACT Coroner's Court found it was impossible on the evidence to determine the operative cause of the bolts' failure. Coroner Karen Fryar also said it wasn't possible to attribute any blame. The coroner was left to use a broad brush in her recommendations and address each possible cause. Assuming it was the failure of employees at Schwing Australia, which had serviced the boom before the death, Ms Fryar recommended the company review its processes as to installation of bolts. The company should also review the methods they use to ensure bolts are uniformly tensioned, and to ensure load testing is carried out. Lawyers for the company had informed the coroner those reviews had already taken place. Assuming the boom collapsed because the bolts themselves failed from a weakening process known as hydrogen embrittlement, the coroner recommended WorkSafe ACT refer the reports to the manufacturers and suppliers for their consideration as to whether the bolts or any zinc coating met relevant industry standards. And assuming that the failure was a combination of these factors, Ms Fryar recommended Worksafe ACT refer the reports to Safe Work Australia, for consideration about the need for Australian-wide standards. Ms Fryar said she hoped was that Mr Catanzariti's death had been the trigger for reform, so that construction sites within the ACT and around Australia might be safer workplaces. Ms Catanzariti has been campaigning tirelessly since her son's death, imploring the government to improve safety on work sites. But for all her efforts, no-one has been held accountable. "There's no accountability in justice," she said. "And it's not an equal playing field. "Why have I had to fight so hard for this? It's not my job, it's the government's. "You're broken in every way possible, mentally, physically, and emotionally. "Your health deteriorates, it becomes a terminal illness." She thanked the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Education Union, which had supported her through the process, and former secretary Dean Hall, who she said had saved her life. She also said she wanted to see the law change to put a workable industrial manslaughter crime on the books. In a statement, ACT Minister for Workplace Safety Rachel Stephen-Smith said the government was committed to doing all it can to ensure workers return safely to their homes and families. She said that since 2012 there had been a number of measures put in place to improve workplace health and safety, and the government had recently reviewed compliance and enforcement arrangements. Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Farm guilty of third workplace safety offence

Posted on 16/02/2019, 7:21 AM by Gary Willcox
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 One of eastern Victoria's biggest vegetable producers has been fined $80,000 after a worker was hit by a forklift at its packing plant.

 
Covino Farms pleaded guilty in the Sale Magistrates Court to one charge of failing to maintain a safe workplace.
 
It is the third time the operation at Longford, which grows and packs carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, has been convicted of breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
 
The most recent charge came after an accident on New Years Eve in 2016, when vegetable packer Angula Wsol was struck by a forklift and suffered a broken collarbone and pelvis.
 
Magistrate Lou Hill told the court Covino Farms was "aware of the risk" to employees' safety in its shed, but the business did not take any action to rectify the situation.
 
"There was a real risk of death or injury," Magistrate Hill said.
 
He also ordered Covino Farms to pay $4,753 in court costs, and that a conviction to be recorded against the company.
 
Covino Farms directly employs 245 people at the 1400 hectare Longford site.
 
Another 55 people work at the farm but are employed by labour hire firms.
 
The court was told that Ms Wsol, who had worked at Covino Farms for 19 years, has not worked since the accident apart from one short stint back at the farm.
 
Victorian WorkSafe Authority prosecutors barrister Andrew Palmer said beside her physical injuries from the accident, Ms Wsol still sees a psychologist for stress and panic attacks.
 
The court was told the workplace accident happened when Ms Wsol was walking along a corridor from the packing shed's tomato room.
 
When she rounded a corner she collided with the forklift.
 
Three crates of lettuce fell on her, she was flown to Melbourne for treatment.
 
At the time of the accident the court heard Ms Wsol was employed by labour hire firm Meta Contracting.
 
'Very basic safety measure' ignored. Mr Palmer said at the time of the accident, there were no separate walking areas for workers in the packing shed.
 
"Separating pedestrians from forklifts is a very basic safety measure that really should have been taken," Mr Palmer said.
 
He added that "failing to introduce such measures is a serious breach of the Act", because the risk of injury was obvious.
 
He argued any penalty needed to take into account the company's previous convictions.
 
In 2017, Covino Farms was fined $107,900 after it pleaded guilty to two workplace safety charges.
 
These charges dated back to 2015 when two workers were injured at Covino Farms in separate incidents less than a month apart.
 
One of the incidents saw a worker suffer a dislocated neck after being run over by a seeding machine being towed by a tractor.
 
Lawyer for Covino Farms Sarah Keating said there was some attempt by the business to protect workers in the factory.
 
"There has been line markings, the line markings had faded, Covino Farms had turned its mind to the need for segmenting pedestrians and forklifts," she told the court.
 
"It readily admits this was not enough."
 
She said following the collision Covino Farms had spent thousands of dollars putting in a range of safety measures at their factory, including physical barriers.
 
Covino Farms director Steven Covino was in court for the sentencing.
 
Source: ABC News

Company fined $74,000

Posted on 14/02/2019, 10:46 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A WA company and its director have been ordered to pay almost $74,000 in fines and court costs after a worker suffered serious permanent injuries during an excavator accident.

 
Sunchaser Enterprises had been contracted to do trenching works and install supply services, such as power and communication cables, at a Wundowie housing estate in February 2016.
 
Director Andrew Joseph Gorringe, who was operating a 20 tonne excavator, lifted the cable drum and swung it over the services trench where two labourers were waiting to lay the cable.
 
When he noticed the rope securing the cable to the drum had not been cut, the victim leaned underneath to cut it but the drum fell, pinning him to the ground and causing injuries to his chest, back and legs that left him unable to return to manual labour.
 
The equipment was not rated for lifting and Gorringe did not hold a licence.
 
Sunchaser pleaded guilty to two offences including failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, which resulted in serious harm to an employee, and was fined $47,000 in Northam Magistrates Court.
 
Gorringe was fined $22,500. There was also an order to pay $4391 in court costs.
 
WorkSafe WA commissioner Darren Kavanagh said Mr Gorringe should have foreseen the hazard given he had been injured in a similar incident in 1998.
 
“The unfortunate victim of Mr Gorringe’s failures - who was only 30 years old at the time - now has to live and work for the rest of his life with the limitations his severe injuries have resulted in,” Mr Kavanagh said.
 
Source: The West Australian

Company fined over return-to-work offences

Posted on 11/02/2019, 11:42 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A company selling nuts, dried fruits and candies in shopping centres has been convicted and fined a total of $60,000 for seven return-to-work offences relating to an injured worker.

 
John's Nuts Operations Pty Ltd, which is in liquidation and did not attend the hearings at Sunshine Magistrate’s Court, was convicted and sentenced for five contraventions of Section 179(3) of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and single contraventions of Section 104(1) and 105 (1) of the same Act.
 
The charges related to making late payments to an injured worker and failing to provide them with suitable employment.
 
The court heard that WorkSafe received a complaint in April last year regarding a worker who sustained work related tendinitis after working for the company since November 2013.
 
The company made an initial weekly payment to the injured worker on time, but five subsequent payments were made outside the statutory time limit.
 
When WorkSafe investigators attended the workplace they found the company had also failed to plan the worker’s return to work and to consult with them about their return.
 
WorkSafe’s Executive Director, Insurance Business Unit, Shane O'Dea, said it was vital that injured workers were paid promptly and that appropriate plans were put in place to aid their return to work.
 
“Not providing injured workers with timely payments and failing to consult with them about their return to work can cause significant added hardship and stress to a worker and their family,” Mr O’Dea said.
 
“Such failures can also be detrimental to a worker’s prospects of recovery and ultimate return to work.
 
“Most employers actively support an injured worker to recover and return to work, recognising it also makes good business sense.
 
“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those employers who disregard their obligations to injured workers.”
 
When assisting employees return to work employers should:
 
• Obtain relevant information about the worker’s capacity for work.
• Consider reasonable workplace support, aids or modifications to assist a worker’s return to work.
• Assess and propose options for suitable employment or pre-injury employment.
• Consult with the worker, treating health practitioner and occupational rehabilitation provider.
• Provide workers with clear, accurate and current details of their return to work arrangements.
• Monitor the worker’s progress.
• In situations where a worker has no current work capacity, employers must still plan for their return to work.
 
Source: WorkSafe Victoria

Man dead after electrical incident

Posted on 11/02/2019, 10:27 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A man has died and a second man has received serious burns after an incident understood to involve live electrical wires at a worksite in Sydney's west.

 
Emergency services were called to Regent Crescent, Moorebank, about 2pm to reports that a man had been electrocuted while working on the roof of a factory.
 
Inspector Andy Cullen of NSW Ambulance said that, when paramedics arrived, they found a total of five patients on the roof, one of whom was unconscious.
 
"Four of those patients were extricated in a timely manner," he said. "One of those was transported to hospital with lower leg burns in a serious but stable condition."
 
The other three were assessed by paramedics at the scene before being released, he said.
 
The fifth man, aged 24, was unable to be freed from the roof until the electricity to the building was turned off, as the metal roof had become electrified.
 
"It was a challenging situation to reach the final patient who was still up on the roof," Inspector Cullen said.
 
"We worked very closely with Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Police to formulate a plan to make contact with that patient."
 
Eventually, he said, Fire and Rescue NSW and special operations paramedics "made contact with that patient, and the patient was found to be unfortunately deceased".
 
Inspector Cullen said he had been told the patient "was holding some kind of metal pole in his hand, and he’s turned and inadvertently touched some live wires adjacent to the rear of the building".
 
Police are now investigating the circumstances that led to the incident and will prepare a report for the coroner.
 
A crime scene has been established, and SafeWork NSW officers are assisting with inquiries.
 
 
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

City Services incident rap sheet

Posted on 11/02/2019, 7:41 AM by Gary Willcox
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  - A member of the public was locked inside the Mitchell tip after it closed.

 
 - A worker mowing grass was hit by another lawnmower and thrown from the machine.
 
 - An employee cut their wrist with a chainsaw while removing a tree, requiring hospitalisation.
 
 - A City Services contractor ran over a fellow employee who was picking up litter on the side of the road when he was supposed to be looking out for them, but instead was using his phone behind the wheel.
 
 - The May 2018 accident was one of a litany of workplace safety incidents reported to Transport Canberra and City Services.
 
 - Bus driver stabbed with a syringe by a passenger.
 
 - Roads ACT contractor receiving an electric shock from a light pole
 
 - Transport Canberra and City Services employee gets an electric shock from a power board in the directorate's Northbourne Avenue office.
 
 - A Roads ACT contractor was exposed to potential asbestos in a damaged Telstra pit.
 
 - A worker was mowing grass in a public area and was thrown from their ride-on mower when another worker crashed into them.
 
 - A worker was riding a lawnmower when they were hit by a car on a street in Ngunnawal, rupturing the mower's fuel tank, after the car attempted to overtake.
 
 - Due to the crash, all new mowers were fitted with equipment to make them more visible to passing drivers, and officer training was updated.
 
 - A worker was taken to hospital and required multiple stitches after cutting their wrist with a chainsaw while removing a tree.
 
 - Two Domestic Animal Services workers were bitten by dogs, resulting in one worker being taken to hospital, while the other suffered a punctured left hand.
 
"An increase in the number of incidents lodged is a reflection of Transport Canberra and City Services workers being better educated on the requirement to report all incidents, near misses and hazardous situations," the spokeswoman said.
 
"Incident reports provide us with valuable information about the activities our workers undertake and which of those activities cause harm."
 
"Ensuring the safety of our employees and the citizens of Canberra is a high priority for [the directorate]," the spokeswoman said.
 
Source: The Canberra Times

Worker wins compo case after a pig injury

Posted on 11/02/2019, 7:27 AM by Gary Willcox
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 A South Australian man who was attacked by a pig has won a worker's compensation claim against his employer, who claimed his injury was actually caused in a game with his dog.

 
The piggery farmhand broke a thigh bone when he was gored by the boar in 2015
But pain in his ankle forced him to stop work altogether in 2017
A tribunal finds it flowed from the original injury caused by the pig, not a game with his dog in 2016
According to the claim, Graham Nottle was gored by an agitated 220-kilogram boar while working at the Sabor artificial insemination breeding centre in Clare — in the mid-north of South Australia — in May 2015, breaking his thigh bone.
 
The 45-year-old went back to work in 2016 but still suffered pain while doing his job which included working closely with boars weighing from 100 to 350kg and regularly walking them around the piggery.
 
He told the South Australian Employment Tribunal that going back to work too soon caused him to break a bone in his ankle, which then developed necrosis.
 
Sabor claimed the injury was caused in a tug-of-war game Mr Nottle had played with his dog in September 2016 during which he suffered a sprained ankle.
 
But the tribunal found it was just a coincidence, and in fact the tug-of-war game had led to Mr Nottle getting his ankle looked at properly.
 
His surgeon Rob Paterson ordered Mr Nottle to stop work altogether in January 2017, saying he had already worked longer than he should have.
 
"I find it amazing that Mr Nottle was able to persevere and continue to fully weight-bear after suffering that injury," Dr Paterson said.
 
"The injury to the ankle was not a direct result of the work-related injury to the knee, but Mr Nottle advises that in favouring his knee, this resulted in his placing all the weight onto the left foot at the time of the incident which clearly would have predisposed to the injury to the ankle.
 
"In addition, it is clear that he suffered significant aggravation of the injury by persisting at work."
 
In their submissions, Sabor and Return to Work SA said the months of weight-bearing at work after the original fracture did not significantly aggravate it.
 
They said there was "no progressive worsening of the ankle" between when Mr Nottle went back to work and when he was injured playing with his dog.
 
The tribunal's deputy president Stephen Lieschke ordered Mr Nottle be paid compensation under the Return to Work Act, with the amount to be worked out next week.
 
"In my opinion, the evidence as a whole strongly supports the applicant's claim," Mr Lieschke wrote in his decision.
 
"I conclude that the presenting stress fracture of the left talus in January 2017 was significantly contributed to by employment, and that resulting total incapacity for work commenced on 12 January 2017, and has continued since then."
 
Source: ABC Online

Woman scalped in workplace accident

Posted on 08/02/2019, 1:28 AM by Gary Willcox
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 A woman has been flown to a Sydney hospital in a serious condition after her scalp was torn away from her skull in a workplace accident near Nowra.

 
The 48-year-old suffered severe head injuries after her hair became caught in the drive shaft of a machine at the Manildra Group mill on Bolong Road, Bolong, about 9.40am on Thursday.
 
Emergency services, including four ambulance crews and a rescue helicopter responded to the incident.
 
NSW Ambulance Illawarra district Inspector Terry Morrow said the woman lost a significant amount of blood.
 
She was treated at the scene before being flown by helicopter to St George Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
 
Source: Illawarra Mercury