No Safety Systems Costs SA Firm $9,000

In South Australia today a labour hire firm was fined $9,000 for failing to conduct adequate site assessments or hazard analysis. It was also charged with failing to properly assess the adequacy of its training systems and to ensure safe operating systems were in place for machine usage. The Industrial Magistrate rejected the owners plea that the accident would probably have happened anyway and that it was an administrative failure rather than something deserving a conviction.

The matter involved an employee placed by the hire firm at a farming operation where he was injured while using a machine. Trying to fix the machine, he reached under a safety guard on a machine he was using. His fingers were crushed and partially amputated.

This was an interesting case because the same incident had already resulted in a fine of $12,000 for the host employer. This time it was the  labour hire company that had placed the hapless employee who was being charged. But the director of the labour hire company involved believed they had a case. The director could show that he had attended the worksite and conducted an inspection when the employee started. Moreover the director was there when a basic safety induction was completed and arranged that new employees be “buddied up” with a more experienced employees.

But according to SA Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie the company should have done much more for the employee. The worker had not been shown how to operate the machine properly, no-one from the labour hire firm had completed site hazard analysis or a risk assessment of the premises where its employee would be working. On top of this the labour hire company did not have a system for assessing the effectiveness of on the job induction or training provided by any company the employee was placed with.

The company was convicted and fined $9,000 plus costs. (Baker v Agresolve Pty Ltd (2007) SAIRC 12)

When we passed this case around the Safety Concepts office a number of our consultants said they were not surprised by the conviction and had seen similar decisions in other jurisdictions. The advice was for any company to regularly conduct site surveys to assess hazards and at least annually complete risk analysis of the worksite/s. Our advice? Don’t do it yourself. Customers looking for help with this should click on and arrange a free on-site consultation. 

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Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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