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Prosecution Details

Offender T E Wang Pty Ltd
Trading Name New Idea Furniture

Charges

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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 MI7926/07 9 March 2005 11th November 2008 3A(3)(b)(i) $40,000.00 (Global) 11th November 2008
2 PE19074/08 9 March 2005 11th November 2008 3A(3)(b)(i) $40,000.00 (Global) 11th November 2008
3 MI7927/07 9 March 2005 11th November 2008 4.55(1)(a) 1.16(2)(b)(i) $750.00 (Global) 11th November 2008
Description of Breach(es)

Charge 1 - MI7926/07: Being an employer, failed so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a working environmnent in which its employee, was not exposed to hazards and by that failure caused serious harm to its employee; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

 

Charge 2 - PE19074/08: Being a principal, who in the course of trade or business, engaged a contractor, failed, so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment in which the contractor was not exposed to a hazard, that being a matter over which the accused had the capacity to exercise control and by that failure caused serious harm to the contractor, contrary to sections 23D, 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

 

Charge 3 - MI7927/07: Being an employer at a workplace at which there were industrial lift trucks, failed to ensure that a person operating the industrial lift truck, was a person who had documentary evidence that he satisfied the competency requirements of the National Guidelines for Occupational Health and Safety Competency Standards for the Operation of Load Shifting Equipment and Other Types of Specified Equipment for load shifting equipment; contrary to Regulation 4.55(1)(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 made under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

Charges 1 and 2

The accused operates a furniture retailing business consisting of a showroom floor and large storage area (warehouse) where furniture is sold and a parking area that abuts both the showroom and the warehouse.

In February 2005 a director and owner of the accused engaged a painter to paint the external walls of the warehouse and showroom. The building is of tilt panel construction, and its walls are some 5.5 to 6m in height. It was agreed between the parties that a scaffold would be provided.

As a scaffold was not available for several days, a stock picking lift truck owned by the accused was permitted to be used to access the upper reaches of the wall, in lieu of a ladder being used by the painter, which appeared unstable and was intended to have been used until a scaffold was available.

The painter was informed that the Lift Truck would be operated that day by a part-time Storeman who had been employed by the accused since 2003. The Storeman brought the Lift Truck to the area in which painting was to take place and under the direction of the director and owner of the accused, it was decided that the Storeman would install a "workbox" onto the pallet covering the tynes of the Lift Truck.

Once the workbox had been installed, and a harness obtained, the painter agreed to carry out painting work at height from the Lift Truck. With the Storeman operating the Lift Truck from the operator's box, the painter climbed into the workbox, and the two of them commenced painting the upper surfaces of the exterior walls of the building. The painter wore the safety harness. The Storeman did not wear any harness.

The Storeman manoeuvred the Lift Truck such that the tynes of the Lift Truck (and thus its direction of travel) were parallel to the wall being painted. The Storeman assisted with some of the painting.

They both proceeded in this way for some time. At approximately 1415 hours, while they were working with the platform extended at a height of approximately 5330mm (just short of its maximum extension of 5335mm) the Lift Truck became unstable, overbalanced and started to roll over away from the building.

The car park area in which the Lift Truck was being used by the painter and the Storeman was not a flat surface. Rather, the surface of the car park sloped away from the wall down towards a drain near the centre of the car park area.

The identification plate of the Lift Truck identified the safe working gradient of the surface the Lift Truck could operate with a raised load as being a maximum of 5% off the horizontal plane. The recommended height for a load where the surface being traversed was greater than 5% off the horizontal plane was a maximum of 300mm (12 inches) off the ground.

A metal plate located in the operator's cab provided information relating to lift height, weight, and use on hard level surfaces. Another plate contained a warning notice, indicating the Operator's Manual should be read. The accused did not have the Manufacturer's Instructions for the Lift Truck available for use by its employees at the Workplace.

The average gradient across the surface where the Lift Truck was standing and traversing was 7.54% off the horizontal plane.

At the time of the incident the Lift Truck was being driven across the grade and its operator's platform and tynes were elevated more than 5 metres. As the platform and any load placed on it are elevated, the centre of gravity of the Lift Truck becomes higher. The likelihood of a rollover is greatly increased by operating the Lift Truck sideways (across) an incline with its tynes at height.

The Storeman suffered multiple and significant injuries including lacerations to his scalp and damage to his neck, back, pelvis, right arm at and above the elbow joint and left arm below the elbow joint. The painter suffered severe fractures to both ankles as well as injury to his right shoulder and arm.

The accused did not ensure that the Lift Truck was operated in a way that ensured it did not overbalance. The accused did not provide an alternative means of elevating the painter to carry out the work, such as a mobile scaffold or an appropriate elevated work platform that could be operated across an uneven surface.

The accused did not ensure that the Storeman had been provided with training that would have enabled him to sufficiently identify the hazard that opering the Lift Truck across the grade of a slope while its platform and tynes were elevated presented and take the necessary precautions to avoid a rollover.

Charge 3

When spoken to by WorkSafe Inspectors, the Storeman stated that while he had driven industrial lift trucks on numerous occasions both for previous employers and the accused, he did not have documentary evidence that he satisfied the competency requirements of the National Guidelines for Occupational Health and Safety Competency Standards for the Operation of Load Shifting Equipment and Other Types of Specified Equipment [NOHSHC: 7019 (1992)] for load shifting equipment. The accused did not take any measures to ensure that the Storeman acquired this documentation. An applicable training course costs approximately $270 and would take 1-2 days to complete.




Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth

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