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                        2 min read

                        Council enters enforceable undertaking accused of WHS breach

                        Council enters enforceable undertaking accused of WHS breach

                        At Plant Assessor, we know it pays to be prepared. The financial cost for breaching WHS laws and failing to meet machinery compliance standards can be devastating. 

                        More important than this is the cost to life. There are thousands of incidents every year resulting from controllable hazards and; sadly, some are fatal. 

                        So when we learned that a local council committed to completely overhauling its contractor management programs, and develo

                        ping a new WHS induction program after being accused of unsafe practices – we took notice.

                        What happened?

                        The incident that prompted these changes happened in October 2018, and came off the back of an enforceable undertaking (EU) in lieu of prosecution. 

                        The council, Wingecarribee Shire, employed Arkwood Pty Ltd to dismantle a centrifuge with a 15-tonne crane at their sewerage treatment plant at Moss Vale.

                        Arkwood engaged Highland Cranes to perform the work. An employee was seriously injured – suffering electric shocks and burns – when the crane’s boom touched overhead power lines.

                        The result? Three months in hospital undergoing numerous operations, and leaving the employee blind in one eye. 

                        Avoidable mistakes. Costly charges.

                        The employee of Highland Cranes had delivered the crane to the site, but was not licensed to operate the vehicle. Reportedly, he did so because the designated operator was running late.

                        The council, Arkwood and Highlands were subsequently charged with WHS breaches.

                        The judge presiding over the case found that even though Highlands was the contractor, Arkwood had identified the dangers posed by powerlines, and should have ensured correct hazard controls had been implemented – including an exclusion zone, and a spotter.

                        SafeWork NSW alleged that the council breached the WHS Act in failing in its primary duty of care. They accepted the council’s bid to enter an enforceable undertaking (EU) in lieu of prosecution, with a minimum spend of over $600,000.

                        An overhaul of safety systems

                        The enforceable commitments include a raft of developments to their WHS induction and contractor management program. They also committed to improving the safety culture of at council, and implementing a community safety awareness programme.

                        They also implemented a new procedure to do away with paper-based systems. We have long known the dangers of outdated paper based processes for managing machinery compliance.

                        The council said, “the phased program aims to improve WHS compliance and reduce safety risks by centralising compliance and verification of [council] requirements and allowing [online] accessibility to documentation and contractor employee details by [council] staff in the field.”

                        “Ensuring all contractors engaged by [the council] are providing appropriate documentation and evidence of compliance with WHS legislative requirements is critical. It is also critical that this information is not just provided at the initial engagement stage but is also developed for the actual work being undertaken (ie. site specific).”

                        Get ahead of the curve

                        All of the above improvements are recommended by Plant Assessor, and can be easily achieved using our software platform.

                        With our MySite functionality, organisations from Tier One contractors through to Local Councils are able to centralise and digitise machinery compliance requirements, connect with subcontractors, and audit compliance of machinery before it arrives on-site.

                        Don’t wait for an incident to occur before taking action to improve safety. We’ve developed a robust tool for assessing your safety systems. 

                        It will take you step by step through every aspect of machinery safety, help you identify gaps, and show areas you can improve in.

                        It’s free to do, and simple to complete.

                        Check your machinery safety systems now.


                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.

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