Hire company fined after worker’s death

United Access Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court on Wednesday last week following the August 2017 death of a worker who was thrown from a mobile elevated work platform (EWP). The sentence follows a trial in the County Court in February where a jury found United Access guilty of failing to provide or maintain a safe working environment, and failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risk.

The court heard the deceased worker was in the process of loading an EWP onto a truck when a passing vehicle made contact with the EWP’s bucket. As a result, the worker was ejected from the bucket and sustained serious head injuries. He later died in hospital.

The court was told regular loading and unloading of EWPs on the road in front of the premises by United Access employees and truck drivers created a risk of collision with passing motorists.

WorkSafe alleged the company failed to have a written system of work that required, as a default position, that loading and unloading of EWPs occurred within the premises or, where this was not reasonably practicable, a system of work that allowed safe loading or unloading in front of the site.

United Access also failed to have a written system of work that defined what additional precautions were necessary when loading or unloading occurred on the road, or communicate the system of work to truck drivers who attended the site.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the death was a tragic reminder of the importance of having safe systems of work in place and communicating them with both employees and contractors who enter work sites.

“It is critical that employers outline to workers the work that needs to be done, the potential risks involved and identify how the risks must be controlled,” she said. “Not doing so means workers are exposed to extreme danger and employers can face enormous consequences.”

Employers and contractors loading and unloading mobile EWPs should ensure:

  • Safe systems of work are in place throughout the delivery and collection process.
  • Operators are appropriately trained and competent.
  • The designated loading and unloading area has been assessed and prepared for the activity.
  • Traffic management plans are developed for the loading and unloading locations and updated as conditions change (e.g. lighting, traffic volumes, parked vehicles, fog, rain).
  • Necessary signage, barriers or other equipment are provided and used for traffic management and exclusion zones.
  • Exclusion zones are established, where possible, around the transport vehicle during the loading and unloading process to prevent persons or vehicles entering the area.
  • The EWP is regularly inspected and maintained.

Source: Mirage News

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