Prosecution after safety-notice lapse

Monday, 22 November, 2010

Victorian-based TAC Metal Industries pleaded guilty in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court to two charges of failing to comply with improvement notices issued by a WorkSafe inspector. The company was placed on an adjourned good behaviour undertaking for 18 months, without conviction. It was also ordered to pay $10,000 to the court fund.

The prosecution followed a visit from a WorkSafe inspector to the company in October 2009. The inspector issued two notices requiring specific safety improvements to be made within a set timeframe.

During a follow-up visit in November, the inspector found the safety improvements had not been made within the timeframe. One month later in December, the company still hadn’t undertaken the safety improvements required by the notices.

“Improvement notices are legal notices which direct a company or a person to make safety improvements by a certain date,” said WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth. “Each notice gives suggestions for how improvements can be made, and the inspector issuing the notice is also available to discuss possible avenues towards compliance.

“These notices are issued for a reason - to protect workers. Failing to comply with them is a sign that you’re not taking your responsibilities as an employer seriously enough.

The first improvement notice required the company to control risks of musculoskeletal injuries to workers lifting hitch assemblies off the floor and onto a workbench.

“Workers had to lift about 50 hitch assemblies from the floor onto the benchtop every hour - if you’re the person doing the lifting, you’re going to be feeling it pretty soon,” Forsyth said. “Tasks like repetitive lifting can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, which are the most common workplace injury in Victoria.

“To protect workers from injuries caused by heavy lifting, the company was required to get a height-adjustable mechanical aid like a hand pallet truck or table truck trolley.”

The second notice required an air receiver forming part of a compressor unit in operation at the workplace to be inspected and monitored for risks like explosion. The company was required to implement an inspection regime in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications and the relevant Australian Standard.

The company has since complied with both notices.

This is the fourth WorkSafe prosecution this year relating to failure to comply with an improvement notice.

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