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Prosecution Details

Offender Paul Egerton

Charges

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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 MI4986/2012 16 December 2009 19th April 2012 20A(3)(c) $2,000.00 19th April 2012
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee the accused failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work; contrary to sections 20(1)(b) and 20A(3)(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

Background Details

An urban bus company operated the Perth public bus service.  It employed the accused as a heavy duty mechanic at its Malaga bus depot.

The accused was a very experienced mechanic. He provided supervision and guidance to apprentice heavy duty mechanics.  He was also the depot's safety and health representative.  The accused was regularly required to jack up buses for repair.

If blocks needed to be placed under the bus to hold up the suspension the mechanic would ensure the bus could not move whilst a worker was underneath it inserting the chocks.

This was achieved by:

a.    Using steel chocks to stop the wheels of the bus moving.  Wooden chocks were not suitable.  Wooden chocks were used to support vehicles jacked up to various heights. 

b.   Activating the spring brake.

c.   Jacking up one side of the bus at a time and inserting stands to hold up the bus.  The jack selected should be long enough to not need to be stood on wooden blocks.

d.   Connecting the bus to any vehicle which was going to be used to tow the bus.  Mechanics towed buses in and out of the workshop for repairs.

No one was permitted to be under a bus whilst it was only supported by a jack.

The bus company had a written procedure in place for the jacking of buses.  It required the rear wheels to be held in place by steel chocks. It did not allow anyone to be under a bus whilst it was being supported by a jack.  The procedure also required the buses to be supported by stands and the brake on whenever they were worked on from underneath the bus.  The bus company mechanics were trained to use the appropriate procedures to ensure a bus could not move whilst a person was underneath it.  This included never jacking up a bus whilst a person was underneath it.

The accused was at work at the bus company's Malaga compound when he was asked to move a bus, which was badly fire damaged, from one area of the compound to another.

The fire had damaged mechanical parts of the bus which prevented it being moved.  The mechanical parts needed to be released to allow the bus to be towed. 

The accused asked an apprentice to help him. The apprentice took the brake off.

The accused chocked the front side of the rear wheels on one side of the bus.  He used wooden chocks. He should have used steel chocks.

At that point the depot engineer asked the accused if he needed a tow truck.  The accused said he would persevere with moving the bus himself a bit longer.

The apprentice asked another apprentice to help him.  The two apprentices drove a second bus to the first bus so the first could be towed by the second.  The 2nd apprentice got off the bus and the 1st apprentice drove the second bus to the rear of the first bus.  He prepared to connect the buses for towing.  He did not finish this as it was not possible to do it on his own.

The accused asked the 1st apprentice to put wooden blocks in front of the right rear wheels, and said the bus would have to be jacked up so blocks could be put in to hold the body of the bus off its rear wheels.  He also asked both apprentices to decide which one of them would go under the bus.

The 1st apprentice slid under the bus to work out where the chocks needed to be placed.  He assumed that the accused had taken all of the necessary steps to make it safe for him to be under the bus.  He was able to then insert his chock whilst kneeling next to the bus and reaching his arm in under the bus.

The 2nd apprentice could not insert his chock as the bus was too low.  It needed to be jacked up.

The accused used a jack sitting on two wooden blocks to jack up the bus whilst the 2nd apprentice remained underneath the bus so he could insert his chocks.  The bus was jacked up higher than the stands underneath it so it was only supported by the jack.  The stands had been put in place by another employee the day before.  The accused did not know the stand was in place.

The bus rolled forward off the jack onto the 2nd apprentice.  His head and chest were pinned under the bus.  The bus was jacked up and he was freed from underneath it.  He was taken to Royal Perth Hospital by ambulance.

The 2nd apprentice suffered:

         a) a fractured skull. 

         b) a depressed skull causing a contusion of the right frontal lobe. 

         c) a fractured nasal bone.

         d) fractured ribs causing an associated haematoma. 

         e) a lacerated head which required suturing by a plastic surgeon.

The risk of a vehicle rolling off a jack is a well known and obvious hazard.

The accused did not follow the proper procedure for jacking up a bus because he was in a hurry.




Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Midland
Costs $1200.00

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