|Offender||Resource Recovery Solutions Pty Ltd (ACN 128 285 263)|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||PE43725/2016||9 September 2013||14th October 2016||19(1) 19A(2) 23F||3A(3)(b)(i)||$85,000.00||17th November 2016|
|Description of Breach(es)||
Where under a labour hire arrangement work was carried out for remuneration by a worker, namely MOHAMMAD HADI for the Accused who was a client of a labour hire agent, namely EASTLINK ENTERPRISE PTY LTD, in the course of the Accused’s trade or business, in relation to matters over which the Accused had the capacity to exercise control, the Accused failed to, so far as practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which MOHAMMAD HADI was not exposed to hazards, and by that failure caused the death of MOHAMMAD HADI; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19A(2) when read with s23F of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
The Accused is a company that specialises in recycling waste from construction and demolition sites.
The Accused is based at 50 Clune Street in Bayswater where waste material is brought to the workplace by trucks. Sometimes these are tip-trucks that have been loaded by earthmoving machinery at the construction or demolition site. Other trucks deliver skip bins that have been collected from construction and demolition sites.
The main part of the workplace is a very large shed housing an automated recycling plant. Within that shed there are a number of crushers and screeners with the material being moved through the process by a series of conveyors. Also inside this large shed is a small pre-fabricated hut known as the Picking Station.
Two horizontal conveyor belts pass through the Picking Station, through an opening on each side. There were normally 5-6 workers stationed in the Picking Station, on each side of the belts, whose role it was to pick off any material other than rock, such as plastics, paper or batteries, then deposit such materials into separate chutes for them to eventually end up either with another recycling company or in landfill.
The Picking Station building had a flat roof constructed of rectangular modular panels. The panels had a 150mm polystyrene infill lined on both sides with a 0.6mm skin of steel. The Safe Working Load of each panel was 140 kilograms.
Passing over this flat roof were two large conveyor belts called CV8 and CV9. These conveyor belts carried the recyclable material that was mostly masonry. Most of the 'fines' such as dirt and sand were supposed to be removed from the recyclable material by a machine called the Vibra-Snap© Oscillating Sand Screen before the material reached CV8.
The Oscillating Sand Screen was manufactured by Action Equipment in Oregon, USA. It is a machine with dimensions of approximately 8 feet wide and 20 feet long, and features flexible polyurethane screen mats. The principle of the machine is that the mats, when the machine is in operation, continually flex and flap up and down to convey material down the incline of the machine from top to bottom. In doing so, the maximum nominated size of sand drops through the screen mats and the oversize that does not pass through the screens flows on to conveyor CV13 at the bottom-end of the sand screen, and then it is transferred across to CV8.
Material that is less than 50mm in size was sent into and through the Oscillating Sand Screen, and the machine was designed to retain and pass through material over 6mm in size.
The oscillating agitation of the screen mats means that, unlike conventional stationary screens, the mats are designed to clean themselves of blockages.
When the Accused undertook a scoping of the Oscillating Sand Screen, prior to deciding to acquire it, one of the factors that it took notice of was the matter contained in the product brochure, in particular “The Vibra-Snap© Screen is an effective alternative to rigid screening systems for processing materials with inherent blinding characteristics and is ideally suited for efficient screening of moist, sticky, fibrous, wet bulk materials with a high percentage of fines or near size particles”.
Nonetheless, a portion of the Oscillating Sand Screen would sometimes block-up, especially in wet weather when the incoming sand was particularly wet. This resulted in the machine not properly screening out all of the fines. Some of the fines would pass to conveyor belt CV13 and then to CV8.
Some of the wet fines would stick to the rubber belt of CV8 and instead of being discharged at the end of the conveyor would instead be carried around onto the underside and then travel back down, once again passing over the roof of the Picking Station. This was referred to as 'carry-back'.
As the conveyor belt passed over the return rollers it would cause the fines to be jolted loose and they would fall off, landing on the flat roof of the Picking Station.
The accumulation of fines on the flat roof of the Picking Station to the point of exceeding the safe working load, and causing one or more roof panels to collapse was a foreseeable hazard.
Prior to the date of the offence, CV8 was not fitted with a scraper to remove fines from the belt at the discharge point and thus prevent carry-back. Other conveyors at the workplace did have scrapers fitted prior to the offence.
There was no system in place to monitor the roof of the Picking Station and ensure it was kept free of an accumulation of fines (subject to cleaning, referred to below) and employees had not been warned of this hazard. The Accused did have a system for the Supervisor, or in his absence the Leading Hand, to monitor the machinery within the recycling plant, but this did not include monitoring of the roof of the Picking Station.
The plant was commissioned in about August 2012.
Prior to Saturday 7 September 2013, a number the Accused’s personnel knew certain things about the deposit of fines on the Picking Station roof:
a) A director of the accused had from time to time seen sand on the roof, and sometimes as much as half a bucket-full to a bucket-full. The director was concerned that, as part of the general cleaning regime of the plant, the roof, as well as all other parts of the plant, be kept clean and presentable. There was never, to his understanding, any accumulation of material to such a quantity to indicate that spillage, or rate of spillage, of fines was a matter of safety concern.
Similarly, a number of workers engaged by the Accused through a labour hire company, to work for the Accused at the workplace also knew certain things about the deposit of fines on the Picking Station roof prior to Saturday 7 September 2013:
a) Worker A worked as picker in the Picking Station. He had been directed to get up on the roof of the Picking Station to clean off the fines using a shovel, more than once and perhaps about five times.
b) Worker B was also a picker. He had been up on the roof of the Picking Station, at the direction of the leading hand, to clean off the fines at least ten times.
c) Worker C was another picker who worked in the Picking Station. He had been up on the Picking Station roof to clean the fines off every two or three days in the month leading up to the accident.
On 9 September 2013 Mohammad Hadi was working at the workplace as a labourer in the Picking Station. Mr Hadi was employed via a labour hire arrangement. The labour hire employer was Eastlink Enterprise Pty Ltd and it had placed the worker at the workplace.
There was a large amount of fines on the Picking Station roof before the machines were started up on 9 September 2013, which was a Monday. The fines had been deposited there two days before, on Saturday 7 September 2013, as the plant did not operate on Sundays. The roof had not been adequately cleaned on that Saturday and there was no system in place requiring the Supervisor or anyone else to check that such cleaning had been done. Cleaning the fines off the Picking Station roof, was a task usually carried out at the end of each day as part of a general workplace clean-up. If there was a build-up of fines they would be cleaned as part of the task. If there were no build-up or anything to clean on the roof, the task was not performed.
In the early morning of 9 September 2013, Mr Hadi and another worker, were about to start cleaning the roof of the Picking Station, but were unable to start the cleaning as the conveyors were about to start up and they had to go inside the Picking Station.
A number of the Picking Station workers saw the unusually large quantity of fines accumulating on the Picking Station roof that day but they did not realise it was a hazard and they expected that it would be cleaned off later in the day. Also on that Monday morning the Leading Hand (who had not worked on the Saturday), saw that the quantity of fines on the Picking Station roof was more than there had been on the Friday. When he had left work on the Friday (he left earlier that day, but it is not clear whether he left before or after the plant closed), there was a little bit of dirt on the roof, slightly more than days when it had not been raining.
On the day of the accident, the plant supervisor was not acting as plant supervisor but was principally operating a loader, feeding waste material into the production process, and was doing that some distance from the Picking Station. In the morning, he was in the vicinity of the Picking Station for a short time. His recollection (in August 2014, almost a year after the accident) was that he noticed sand up on the Picking Station roof but not the amount of the sand. The plant supervisor did not know whether there was sand on the roof at end of the shift on the Saturday prior to the accident.
At about 2pm on the day of the accident, the leading hand saw sand collected on the roof. When interviewed during the course of the investigation after the accident, he was unable to recall or describe the extent of the sand that he saw. The leading hand did not work at the plant on the prior Saturday.
Neither the director nor the project manager were aware, on either the Saturday or the Monday (prior to the accident), of the extent of the sand then accumulated on the Picking Station roof.
At approximately 4.15 pm on Monday 9 September 2013, the Picking Station roof panel under CV8 collapsed and fell down into the Picking Station. Mr Hadi’s head was crushed against a metal fitting in the room and he was killed. Four other workers were in the Picking Station at the time. Fortunately they were all unharmed.
There was 709.02 kilograms of fines on the fallen roof panel. That is more than five times the Safe Working Load.
Prior to the accident, neither the director nor the project manager had seen any like quantity of material on the Picking Station roof, or any substantial quantity at all.
The project manager was working away from the plant, and across the road at the Accused’s vehicle workshop, on the day of the accident. He attended the accident scene. After the accident, he estimated that the amount of fines that was present upon his inspection of the site was, by reference to his prior belief as to the rate of accumulation of sand (if the Picking Station roof had not been cleaned daily), some 5 to 6 weeks’ worth of sand.
Following the death of the Mr Hadi the Accused implemented the following:
It was practicable for each of those control measures to have been put in place before the fatality.
The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted on 14 October 2016. On the 17 November 2016 the Magistrate fined the Accused $85,000.00 and ordered costs of $2488.50.
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth|
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