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                        3 min read

                        Death of council worker leads to record $4.5m WHS spend

                        Death of council worker leads to record $4.5m WHS spend

                        In what can only be described as a landmark conclusion, Transport for NSW has committed to spending more than $4.5 million following the death of a worker in 2018. To date, Transport for NSW has already spent $2,093,500 on rectifications in response to the incident and will spend an extra $2,415,000 as part of the enforceable undertaking (EU).

                        Transport for NSW has advised that the additional $2M in EU expenditure will help mitigate the increased safety risks that are likely to arise as a result of the government’s $2 billion infrastructure investment, which has recently been announced. 

                        According to EU documentation, the planned increase in regional infrastructure investment in the coming years will lead to “an uplift in the number of temporary worksites across NSW regional roads and bridges, and hence a greater risk exposure to workers near plant and traffic.”

                        The previous NSW record in EU spend was $1,855,000, which was set by construction company AW Edwards Pty Ltd. This came following an incident in 2017 that saw a 50-tonne crane tipped over, seriously injuring the operator. The company was subsequently charged with several WHS breaches.


                        The incident  

                        In 2018, a local council worker who was “working on foot” during roadworks undertaken for Transport for NSW at Cryon in the State’s north west was struck and killed by mobile plant. 

                        SafeWork NSW alleged Transport for NSW committed category-2 and category-3 breaches of the State WHS Act, in failing to comply with its primary duty of care under section 19(1), before accepting its bid to enter the EU in lieu of prosecution.

                        The EU document shows Transport for NSW’s post-incident rectifications included: 

                        • performing an audit and assurance program for the 67 councils it works with to identify the areas they need additional support in

                        • updating all regional maintenance contracts to require councils to implement independently audited WHS management systems, to provide a “further level of assurance in councils’ safety management”.


                        The enforceable terms

                        Under the terms of the EU, Transport for NSW will spend:

                        • $445,000 on delivering a training package on “safe working near traffic and safe handling and movement of plant awareness”. This will include a “train-the-trainer” course for council-nominated employees to enable them to facilitate the training course for workers and contractors.

                        • $1.03 million on delivering an officer-level safety leadership summit to improve officers’ understanding of their obligations and responsibilities under the WHS Act and for leading positive safety cultures.

                        • $940,000 on a community safety awareness campaign aimed at encouraging drivers to take care and remain vigilant around road workers in temporary zones to ensure their safety.

                        In response to the EU, SafeWork commented, “The nature of the alleged contravention and the actions taken by Transport for NSW in response to the incident are assessed as being appropriate for consideration of an undertaking”.


                        Safety first approach

                        This historic outcome really goes to show the importance the NSW Government is placing on improving current workplace safety and is it a move we at Plant Assessor applaud. 


                        How confident are you in your safety management systems? Take the test & find out. 

                        For the past 17 years, we have been dedicated to helping people improve their plant and machinery safety systems. If you are unsure of where to start or need to double check where you’re currently at with your machinery safety, we have an easy-to-use, self-diagnostic tool, MACHINERY SAFETY SYSTEM HEALTH CHECK. It has been purposely designed to help people who use plant and machinery understand how sure their safety systems are. 


                        Don’t wait till it’s too late

                        As we have seen from this tragic incident and countless others that have preceded it, one mistake is all it takes for life-altering consequences. We urge you to take the test and get a better understanding of your system’s health before it really is too late. 


                        Here to help

                        At Plant Assessor, we are committed  to helping people get machinery safety right. If you would like some help with your system diagnosis or any other plant and machinery safety concerns, contact us, and our team of experts will be in touch. 


                        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.

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