Tuesday 23rd June 2015
Are you missing this important
worker training step?
In today's Health & Safety Bulletin:
- Case Study: Worker who was not re-inducted wins compensation
Workers come and go.
They might go on parental leave. The work may be seasonal, and so they might return to work for you when the going is good.
You may even welcome an employee back who you worked well with the past. They put in the hours, and best of all, they know the ropes already. Right?
Stop right there.|
I’m sure I don’t need to tell long-time readers of this Bulletin about the importance of induction and training of new workers. But what about returning workers?
The Health & Safety Handbook’s chapter on Training and Induction details some of the absolute essentials you need to institute effective workplace training. Among its pointers, in bold, is a warning about workers returning from extended absence.
It strongly suggests that you provide them with refresher training or close supervision.
But with so much going on, it’s an easy one to pay lip service to.
I’m going to discuss a recent Queensland decision today which I hope serves as a “myth-buster”. It puts paid to the idea that you can forego re-training measures for returning workers.
Even if (as in this case) the actions of the worker seem to defy common sense!
Case Study: Worker who was not
re-inducted wins compensation
In Cincovic v Blackwood (Workers’ Compensation Regulator)  QIRC 101, an Industrial Relations Commissioner was forced to stress the importance of re-training and re-inducting workers who are re-employed or returning from an extended absence.
What were the facts?
In August 2012, Mr Cincovic started work as a truck driver for Blenners Transport. He had previously been employed by Blenners from February 2011 to February 2012.
In March 2014, Mr Cincovic went to collect a pellet jack that was needed for a truck. He rode it “like a scooter” across the warehouse, but when a co-worker playfully kicked the side of it, Mr Cincovic lost his balance and fell on his back.
He lodged a claim for the injury. Following an application for claim review, Mr Cincovic was denied workers’ compensation by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator on the grounds that he had engaged in serious and wilful misconduct. He appealed the decision.
What was the final result?
The Commissioner found that Mr Cincovic was trained in the use of manual pallet jacks in March 2011, but that this was only of a brief and cursory standard.
Additionally, there was no evidence that Mr Cincovic was re-trained, either generally or in specific operating procedures, when he was re-employed by Blenners Transport in August 2012. The Commissioner found that as he was commencing a new period of employment, Blenners should have retrained him in the use of pellet jacks.
It was also found that Mr Cincovic had never received a copy of the workplace agreement which stressed the employees must not engage in deliberate conduct that created a health and safety risk.
The Commissioner was satisfied that Mr Cincovic did not understand that his operation of the pellet jack was not approved or unsafe. While it was an inherently unsafe thing to so in the workplace, it was found he had not done it as a form of horseplay, but as a way of getting the pellet to its destination faster.
Accordingly, it was found that as his actions did not amount to serious and wilful misconduct, he should be entitled to compensation?
What’s your takeaway?
Perhaps the most important lesson here for otherwise diligent employers is the importance of re-training and re-induction for workers who are resuming employment or have been on an extended absence from work.
Generally, you will not be able to point at training originally given to a worker in these circumstances to discharge your responsibilities.
You should ensure that the worker in question understands the safe operating procedure for any plant or machinery they use, and that they have received and read all relevant workplace policies and procedures.
It is also a good idea to re-affirm essential aspects of safe operating procedures through signs and warnings around the workplace, and regular “tool box” meetings where health and safety issues are discussed.
And if you don’t have set safe operating procedures in place, that’s something you need to change today.
Our e-book, How To Develop A Safe Operating Procedure, has everything you need to get started on developing appropriate procedures for your workplace.
For a limited time you can get a 15% discount on the eBook, How To Develop A Safe Operating Procedure. In fact, all Portner Press eBooks have been discounted until the end of June. View the full range here.
The cost in this case was time, money and inconvenience – in the event of a more serious injury or fatality, the effect of a failure to re-train and re-induct could be far greater.
Editor, Health & Safety Bulletin
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