|Offender||City of Armadale|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||AR9210/2017||10 August 2014||13th February 2018||21(2) 21A(2)||3A(3)(b)(i)||$110,000.00||1st April 2020|
|2||AR9211/2017||10 August 2014||13th February 2018||49(5) 54||3A(1)(b)(ii)(I)||$17,000.00||19th April 2018|
|Description of Breach(es)||
On 10 August 2014 the Accused was an employer which failed, so far as was practicable, to ensure that the safety or health of persons, not being its employees, was not adversely affected, wholly or in part, as a result of work being undertaken by an employee of the accused or any hazard that arises from the work of an employee of the accused, contrary to sections 21(2), 21A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
On 11 August 2014 the Accused was issued with a Prohibition Notice and on 17 August 2014 did not comply with this notice contrary to section 49(5) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
Background and knowledge
The City of Armadale (City) is a local government authority established pursuant to the Local Government Act 1995 (WA).
The City oversaw, in 2014, a total land area of approximately 560 square kilometres, comprised of 19 suburbs and approximately 82,267 residents. The City had approximately 345 full time employees, and provided services to approximately 29,616 dwellings. It was the 11th largest local authority in Western Australia.
Within the City’s Technical Services Directorate sits the Waste Services Department which, in 2014, employed 29 full and part-time employees. The Waste Services Department had responsibility for waste disposal services and landfill area for the City’s residents including in-house domestic waste collection, recyclable material collection, verge collection, the Armadale landfill, the Roleystone green waste site, and dumped rubbish collection.
As at 10 August 2014, waste material was disposed of at the landfill site located at Lot 600 Hopkinson Road, Hilbert (Facility) in a semi-rural area covering an area of 30 hectares. This was accessible to the public via a gate off Hopkinson Road where members of the public travelled over a weighbridge and spoke with a weighbridge attendant who then directed them along a dirt road to various dumping areas depending on the type of waste they were dumping.
As at 10 August 2014, there was a dumping area for general waste and recyclables (General Tipping Area), and a separate area of the Facility for dumping green waste, located about 100m away from the General Tipping Area (Green Waste Area).The Green Waste Area had one public entry point. The tip face in the Green Waste Area was approximately 40m in length.
In managing its responsibilities, the City is heavily reliant on its managers and supervisors. Up until early 2015 the Manager of Waste Services was Robert George Druid-Sutton (now retired). There was, at 10 August 2014, a supervisor at the Facility who reported to Mr Druid-Sutton.
Front end loaders operate at the Facility in order to push waste up into piles after it is dumped by members of the public, at both the General Tipping Area and Green Waste Area.
As at 10 August 2014 the City owned two front end loaders which were in use at the Facility being a Volvo L60F and Volvo L70F. Those loaders were operated with flashing lights and sounding beepers when reversing.
As at 10 August 2014, there were four employees present in the landfill area accessible to the public on Weekdays. These are three landfill attendants and a loader operator. On weekends an additional landfill attendant usually works due to an increased demand at the Facility.
In October 2005 Mr Druid-Sutton on behalf of the City received a number of Improvement Notices issued by WorkSafe for the Facility. The first Improvement Notice 81600634 was issued in relation to “Management of vehicles and moving plant – tipping area”. This stated “as an employer at the workplace you have not ensured that the movement of vehicles and plant at the workplace is managed in a way that minimises the risk of injury to pedestrians and persons operating vehicles. i.e. there is no means of restricting pedestrian access to the main tipping area for example persons walking in the vicinity of the tipping area whilst the front end loader is in operation”.
The second Improvement Notice 81600633 was issued in relation to “Management of vehicles at workplace – recycle area”. This stated “as an employer at the workplace you have not ensured that the movement of vehicles at the workplace is managed in a way that minimises the risks of injury to pedestrians and persons operating vehicles. i.e. There will be vehicles arriving and departing, loading and unloading and pedestrian movement at the workplace and it is not clear which way the traffic should flow and where the loading and unloading zone is located.”
Both these Improvement Notices directed the employer to “ensure that the movement of vehicles and plant at the workplace is managed in a way that minimises the risk of injury to pedestrians and persons operating vehicles. Refer to the guidance note safe movement of vehicles at workplaces”.
Also on that date a copy of the WorkSafe Guidance Note “Safe Movement of Vehicles at Workplaces” was provided to Mr Druid-Sutton on behalf of the accused.
In response to these Improvement Notices in November 2005 Mr Druid-Sutton produced a memorandum to Facility staff which stated: "At no time shall the loader operate in public areas with the public present other than loading or unloading specific vehicles. Where possible areas shall be cleared at times when the public are not present. If an area is to be cleared of waste during normal operating hours the public shall be prevented from entering the area by barriers or by tip personnel" (Directive). The Directive was concerned with Loader operations in every public area including the Green Waste Area.
No additional barriers were purchased by the City, but Mr Druid-Sutton understood spotters would be used at the Facility and that the Directive would be followed.
On 29th April 2006 a front end loader reversed into a City employee’s vehicle at the General Tipping Area. The employee was standing near his vehicle and received bruises and cuts to his back and left arm. One of the recommendations of the accused’s internal investigation was for Safe Work Procedures to be reinforced and that all employees at the Facility will be required to sign that they have read and understood the procedures.
The accused produced a document titled Fleet Safety System Heavy Vehicles which was last amended 23rd August 2006. It identified reversing accidents as a major cause of Facility injuries and pointed out that most can be avoided. It listed eight points to follow in order to avoid accidents when reversing.
The accused produced a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for the task of “Operating the loader and pushing up waste” at the Facility dated 6 March 2008. Identified in the JSA is a potential hazard of hitting vehicles/people with the risk control being to ensure no people or vehicles are in the working area. Mr Druid-Sutton was of the belief that the Directive was being adhered to.
On 11 July 2012 a front end loader reversed into a City truck at the Facility near the recycle bins in the General Tipping Area that the public only occasionally used. The recommendations arising from this accident included separating the loader from any other traffic at the rear of the recycle bins and the provision of signage stating “No Entry – Loader Operating Area”.
The Operators manual for the Volvo Loaders which were in use at the Facility included the hazard of blind spots when reversing and basic work procedures to follow when operating them.
It was known by the accused’s loader operators at the Facility that the loaders had blind spots when reversing. The blind spots were nominal compared to most commercial vehicles, due to the high vantage point of the driver, coupled with large offset mirrors, and large windows.
It is common knowledge that if a front end loader collides with a person serious injury or death is likely to occur.
The accused’s Civil Works Department of the Technical Services Directorate had a number of measures in place in its Department in order to prevent mobile plant from hitting pedestrians which included using a Job Safety Analysis (JSA), Traffic Management Plans (TMP) and Take 5 documents to help ensure adequate controls were put in place for the hazards to reduce the risks. These had been in place since 2012.
Most landfill sites run by other local governments also did not use physical barriers as a means of separating plant and pedestrians in the green waste areas of landfill in 2014, such as the City of Cockburn, City of Mandurah, City of Wanneroo, Shire of Mundaring and Shire of Kalamunda. However the Red Hill site in the East Metropolitan Regional Council did employ a physical separation barrier to protect the public.
The Induction checklist for new employees who worked at the Facility relied on the memory of the person giving the induction to point out all of the hazards in the Facility and any appropriate controls in place to reduce or remove the hazards. It did not make specific reference to any formal SWP’s or mobile plant and pedestrian hazards. The inductions were performed by the Supervisor, who had 24 years’ experience operating loaders, was accredited to do so, was aware of the well-established practice that loader operations were not to be carried out when members of the public were in the vicinity, and who was operating the loader when the incident the subject of the prosecution occurred. However most of the staff who were working at the Facility in August 2014 did not know of the 2005 Directive or the 2008 JSA and did not know of any formal procedure about operating the loaders around the public.
Prior to August 2014 the Directive and JSAs the City had previously put in place to manage the separation of pedestrians and vehicles from the front end loaders at the Green Waste Area were not being enforced or practised by the Facility Supervisor. In August 2014 there were no barriers in use and spotters were not being used in the Green Waste Area. Facility staff employed in August 2014 had not been trained about either the use of spotters or physical barriers. Loader operators generally tried to operate the loaders when members of the public were not present however this was not always possible.
However, no City officer or employee, above the supervisor was aware of that, as it was never noticed by, nor raised with, Mr Druid-Sutton by anyone during his visits to the Facility, nor identified during internal routine safety audits, since WorkSafe had issued their Improvement notices in 2005. There had never been a prior incident of a loader colliding with anything or anyone at the Green Waste Area in its 15 years of operation.
If the City, through its senior officers had become aware that loaders were being operated in close proximity to members of the public, immediate steps would have been taken to redress that omission.
Closed circuit television footage from the Facility shows the loader being operated within close proximity of members of the public and vehicles on multiple occasions including on 1 August 2014, 2 August 2014, and 6 August 2014 and later in the afternoon after this incident on 10 August. In the footage from 2 August 2014 the actions taken by the member of the public and the loader operator are very similar to the events of 10 August 2014.
Events of 10 August 2014
On Sunday 10 August 2014, the landfill was open to the public and a number of employees were at the Facility, in the following capacities:
1. Supervisor and loader operator
2. Landfill attendant
3. Landfill attendant
4. Landfill attendant
5. Weighbridge attendant
The supervisor was operating the Volvo L60F front end loader (“Loader”) plant number P554. The loader was fitted with a reversing beeper which was operational.
During the morning of 10 August 2014 several members of the public attended the Facility in order to drop off waste. The landfill was particularly busy this morning. These members of the public included the victim.
At approximately 11.30 a.m. the victim arrived at the Facility with green waste and was directed to follow the signs to the Green Waste Area. The victim was driving a white four wheel drive with trailer attached. He reversed his vehicle and trailer up to the green waste pile.
The supervisor was operating the Loader at the Green Waste Area of the Facility pushing up green waste onto the green waste pile. He had started pushing up waste from the eastern side of the heap and was working his way towards the western end. There was no spotter present and no physical separation between the Loader and members of the public.
The victim was parked at the far western end of the green waste pile and closest to the mulch pickup area. After he had finished unloading most of his trailer he moved the vehicle and trailer forward in order to sweep it out and put the tailgate back on the trailer.
Two other employees went to lunch whilst the victim was unloading his trailer.
The supervisor who was operating the loader saw the victim moving his vehicle and assumed he had left the area as he did not notice the victim nor his white four wheel drive with trailer attached in the Loader mirrors. He considered the area to be clear so reversed the Loader backwards.
The victim, who had only moved his vehicle forward rather than departing the area, started to put his tailgate back on his trailer when the Loader struck him from behind. The right rear wheel of the Loader ran over the victim’s right foot and up his left leg. Upon hearing shouts from members of the public the Loader stopped and drove forward off the victim’s left leg and over his right foot.
Upon hearing the shouts, the two employees turned the camera on the CCTV to face the Green Waste Area and observed the commotion.
An ambulance was called and the victim was transported to Royal Perth Hospital where he received treatment.
The victim suffered serious long term internal injuries as well as several broken bones in both feet and his knee.
The victim has had to undergo several operations and extensive wound management at Royal Perth Hospital.
It was reasonably practicable for the City to have carried out any, some or all of the measures set out below.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to have enforced a Safe Work Procedure (“SWP”) for the operation of front end loaders at the Facility whilst it was open to members of the public that included the following:
a) The Loader is only operated when a spotter is available and used in order to reduce the risk of harm to members of the public; and
b) The loader operator and spotter have a standard means of communicating with each other either by way of hand signals or radio communication; and
c) The area the Loader is to operate in is separated from the public by suitable barriers and signed that the area is closed to the public whilst Loader is operating;
d) The spotter remains performing the role of a spotter whilst the Loader is in use in order to identify any hazards and communicate these to the loader operator without delay;
e) If a member of the public or vehicle enters the Loaders operating area the spotter is to immediately notify the loader operator who is to cease operating the Loader until the member of the public or vehicle is no longer present; and
f) The barriers and signs are not removed until the Loader has finished operating.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to have had reversing cameras fitted to the rear of the Loaders used at the Facility.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to provide training to each of their employees at the Facility who may operate a Loader or provide spotter duties which included the role of each in relation to the SWP.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to include a copy of the SWP in the induction package provided to all employees upon starting at the Facility.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to ensure that all staff who worked at the Facility knew of the location of the SWP and this was readily accessible to them.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to ensure managers and supervisors enforced the practical application of any SWP developed.
It was reasonably practicable for the accused to ensure there was a system of review in place for any SWP’s that had been developed in relation to the Facility to ensure these were still relevant and being applied or needed updating.
After this incident
Reversing cameras were fitted to the two City of Armadale loaders operating at the landfill site for a total cost of $1,760.
Water fillable barriers were hired from Coates Hire in order to separate the Green Waste Area into two areas so one area can be barricaded and cleared whilst the other remains open to the public.
Signs stating “Danger No Entry - Area Closed for Clearing” were also purchased to be used along with the barriers.
A Safe Work Procedure was updated and enforced titled “Barricading of Tipping Area for Clearing of all Waste”. This now stipulates that a number of actions are required including barricading the area to not allow vehicle or pedestrian access, use of a spotter using hand held two-way radio, confirming the loader operator has completed clearing before removing barricading and check area is safe before allowing public access.
On Monday 11th August 2014 Worksafe Inspector attended the Facility and commenced investigations into the incident involving the Victim.
The WorkSafe Inspector issued to the accused Prohibition Notice Number 62600302 prohibiting the operation of the front end loader while members of the public are present at the Armadale Landfill and Recycling Facility, Hopkinson Road, Hilbert.
The notice was received on behalf of the accused by the City Risk Management Coordinator.
The City Risk Management Coordinator then advised the Manager of Waste Services, Mr Druid-Sutton; the Director of Technical Services, and the City Chief Executive Officer.
On Tuesday 12 August 2014 the Facility Supervisor, verbally informed staff at the Facility that the loader was not to be operated in areas where members of the public are disposing of rubbish. Further when operation of the loader is required due to waste build up these areas are to be closed to prevent the public entering and the closure is to be supervised by staff.
A review of CCTV footage seized from the City shows a front end loader pushing up green waste on Sunday 17th August 2014 in contravention of the Prohibition Notice.
Timeline of breach as captured by the CCTV is as follows:
14.29.13 Loader drives into Green Waste Area. Spotter present wearing orange high visibility top towards centre of screen.
14.29.21 Loader drives next to driver’s door of red utility. Driver of red utility sitting in driver’s seat and exits vehicle shortly after Loader passes his door.
14.32.54 Spotter on right of screen with back to vehicle traffic with Loader on left of screen. Driver of red utility is at the rear of his trailer with his back to Loader.
14.34.08 Loader reversing from green waste pile towards middle of screen while driver of red utility has his back to loader and walks towards centre of screen. Spotter to the right side of red utility.
14.35.34 Loader operating behind red utility with spotter and driver of red utility at the rear of red utility both with back to the Loader.
14.40.06 Spotter speaks to driver of white vehicle as Loader collects green waste from rear of red utility.
14.40.10 Loader starts to push green waste away from red utility towards green waste pile as spotter walks away to the right of screen following white vehicle. Driver of red utility on right side of utility.
14.40.15 Driver of red utility walks behind rear of utility towards where loader is operating. Spotter moves cones on right side of screen.
14.40.17 Loader reverses towards centre of screen as white vehicle drives towards it and driver of red utility comes around to left side of utility. Spotter walking towards the signs.
14.40.25 Loader drives forward to collect green waste from rear of red utility as red utility driver walks towards rear of utility on left side and white vehicle reverses towards green waste pile. Spotter is on right side of red utility near passenger door.
14.40.29 Rear of loader swings out towards red utility driver who is at rear left side of utility. Loader then heads towards green waste pile. Spotter on right side of utility.
When interviewed both one of the City’s Executive Directors who was authorised to speak on behalf of the accused, and Mr Druid-Sutton, the Waste Services Manager were shown footage of the CCTV and agreed this was not in compliance with the Prohibition Notice.
Charge 1 - $110,000 (increased on appeal in the Full Court of the Supreme Court from an initial fine of $30,000 to $110,000)
Charge 2 - $17,000
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Armadale|
|Costs||Appeal - $47,384.00 Conviction - $5510.25|
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