Vic hire company fined $85,000 after worker death

Thursday, 30 July, 2020

Vic hire company fined $85,000 after worker death

United Access, an equipment hire company, has been sentenced and fined $85,000 following the August 2017 death of a worker who was thrown from a mobile elevated work platform (EWP). The company was fined after a trial in February 2020, where a jury found the company had failed to provide or maintain a safe working environment, and failed to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risk.

The deceased worker was loading an EWP onto a truck when a passing vehicle made contact with the EWP’s bucket, resulting in the worker being ejected from the bucket and sustaining serious head injuries. The worker later died in hospital.

The court learned that United Access employees would regularly load and unload EWPs on the road in front of the premises, creating a risk of collision with passing motorists. The company also allegedly failed to have a written system of work that required 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.

The company 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.

“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. Not doing so means workers are exposed to extreme danger and employers can face enormous consequences,” said Julie Nielsen, Executive Director of Health and Safety, WorkSafe Victoria.

Employers and contractors loading and unloading mobile EWPs must ensure that safe systems of work are in place throughout the delivery and collection process, and that operators are appropriately trained and competent. It is also vital to ensure that the designated loading and unloading area has been assessed and prepared for the activity, with traffic management plans developed for the loading and unloading locations, and updated as conditions change.

Necessary signage, barriers or other equipment must also be provided and used for traffic management and exclusion zones. Additionally, exclusion zones must be established around the transport vehicle during the loading and unloading process to prevent persons or vehicles entering the area. The EWP must also be regularly inspected and maintained.

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