A Brooklyn company has been fined $50,000 without conviction, and ordered to pay costs of $29,000, after a 182kg stone benchtop fell on a worker’s foot, resulting in the loss of three toes.
Baron Forge Contractors, trading as PazGroup, was found guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court of committing two offences against section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
The two offences related to a failure to provide or maintain a system of work, and a failure to provide training to employees to enable them to perform such work in a way, that was safe and without risks to health.
The court heard that in September 2015 the then 30-year-old stonemason was using an overhead jib crane and lifting attachment to move a heavy stone benchtop.
The worker had placed a rag between the lifting attachment's rubber clamps in order to protect the benchtop while it was being moved. The benchtop slipped out of the clamp and landed on his foot.
The court heard that placing a rag over the lifting attachment's clamps would have impacted the stability of the load.
It heard that workers had been instructed to use a rag in order to protect stone slabs while they were being moved, and that this was regular practice.
The court also heard the injured worker had not received formal training for using the jib crane.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety, Paul Fowler, said a worker had suffered life changing injuries because PazGroup had failed to adequately train staff in the correct use of its jib crane, and adopted an unsafe system of work.
"It is totally unacceptable for an employer to take shortcuts and compromise safety when moving heavy, awkward objects that can, and do, cause serious injuries," he said.
"Every employer must provide appropriate training to enable their workers to carry out tasks safely and WorkSafe will prosecute where employers fail to do so.”
Tips on how to move heavy loads include:
- Ensuring workers never stand in the drop zone of an unsecured or suspended load.
- Developing a safe operating procedure (SOP), which is then implemented, monitored and enforced.
- Properly training workers in the safe use of plant and machinery that assists in the lifting of heavy objects.
- Regularly check machinery to ensure it is in working condition and safe to use.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.