Tuesday 8th August 2016
Do your workers fully understand your safety instructions?
|In today's Health & Safety Bulletin:|
- Worker wins $600,000 for injury caused by lack of supervision
|A NSW Court of Appeal has determined that a host employer should pay nearly $600,000 to a worker who injured her back because the company failed to ensure she understood its safe working instructions.|
The Court found that had the worker received a “modicum of supervision” to ensure she was complying with its systems of works, the injury could have been avoided.
The worker had severely injured her back lifting 25kg bags of dextrose into a hopper, which should have been slid along a mechanical lifter’s platform where, when slit, would have allowed gravity to empty the bags.|
The Appeal Court Justices found the worker was only shown once how to empty the dextrose bags into the hopper once before routinely performing the task incorrectly without a supervisor correcting her.
"She adopted an unsafe work practice, and that work practice continued, uncorrected, until the day of her injury," Justice Simpson said at the appeal sought by host company Jurox.
"There was no person whose role or responsibility it was to ensure that, once she had undergone the somewhat superficial training by [a co-worker], the [worker] understood her instructions and complied with them," she said.
Justice Simpson found that the employment hire company, Integrated Pty Ltd, didn't breach its duty of care (even though it didn’t audit the workplace) because an audit would not have shown the inadequacies in Jurox's supervision.
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"The [worker's] incorrect technique resulted, not from a conscious departure from what she had been taught, or even carelessness, but from the entrenchment of a practice that ought to have been, and could easily have been, corrected at an early stage," Justice Simpson said.
Justice Simpson upheld the $588,515 award for damages.
Could your business afford a penalty like that?
According to the Court of Appeal, in this instance the injury could have been avoided with a bit more supervision and a check that the worker fully understood the safe way to conduct the procedure of loading bags into a hopper.
What are ‘simple instructions’ to some managers and supervisors, might not appear that way to inexperienced workers who may be scared or embarrassed to ask for further explanation.
Perhaps your workplace safety systems, processes or practices need overhauling to make them ‘bullet-proof’? A very small investment in the Health & Safety Handbook, written the legal experts at Holding Redlich, could save you many thousands of dollars and, importantly, protect your workers from serious injury.
Can you afford not to have a copy? It’s just like having a health & safety lawyer on staff.
Get the Health & Safety Handbook today and protect your business.
Keep up the good work,Jeff Salton
Editor, Health & Safety Bulletin
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