Company fined over young workers' injuries

Tuesday, 28 February, 2006

A NSW Hunter Valley Hunter Valley company and its director have been fined a total of $107,000 following injury to two young workers on their first day of employment.

Hunter Galvanizing Pty Ltd, of Tomago, was fined $100,000, and director Kerry Bartholomew, $7,000, after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 8(1) and Section 26(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

The two workers, aged 17 and 20, were seriously injured on 24 March, 2004, when a one tonne steel headframe they were loading fell 2.3 metres from its supporting cradles and struck them.

One of the workers suffered a fractured skull, which required insertion of a metal plate, and a groin injury.

In handing down her judgement, Justice Backman said the two young and inexperienced workers had received cursory and inadequate instruction, and minimal supervision on their first day at work.

Justice Backman awarded costs and a moiety of the fines to WorkCover.

WorkCover NSW chief executive officer, Jon Blackwell, commented: "The near-fatal incident which led to this prosecution is a terrifying example of what can go wrong when employers fail in their obligations to properly, induct, supervise and train young workers."

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