Employee injured by identified hazard

Tuesday, 08 August, 2006

An ACT company has been fined $200,000 under a new OHS law after a worker was injured by a hazard previously identified by the company's risk assessment process.

The ACT Magistrate's Court fined Rocla Pty Ltd for a breach of Section 49 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989, "Failure to comply with safety duty " causing serious harm to people."

It is the first matter to be prosecuted under the new offence provisions of the Act since it was amended in late 2004. The maximum penalty prior to the 2004 amendment was $25,000 for individuals and $125,000 for a corporation.

"This has risen to a maximum of $250,000 for an individual and/or seven years jail and $1 million for a corporation for the most serious OHS offence of causing serious harm to people," ACT WorkCover commissioner, Erich Janssen said.

The employee sustained serious injuries when his clothing became caught in an unguarded conveyor belt, subsequently crushing his arm. Reports indicate the injury led to a permanent disability.

"The agreed statement of facts submitted to the court indicated that a risk assessment had been conducted in December 2004 and a hazard of "jamming fingers in belt when pushing back' was identified, yet no remedial action had been taken," Janssen said.

Following the incident, a further risk assessment was undertaken and extensive guarding has been fitted to the machine.

Janssen said that the case demonstrates the critical importance of not only undertaking a risk assessment, but implementing control measures for the hazards that are identified as part of that assessment.

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