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Prosecution Details

Offender Perth Recruitment Services Pty Ltd


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 FR12752/08 28 December 2006 20th July 2009 3A(3)(b)(i) $17,000.00 20th July 2009
Description of Breach(es)

On 28 December 2006 at North Coogee, the Accused, being a labour hire agent under a labour hire arrangement with Schutz DSL (Australia) Pty Ltd to provide, for remuneration, workers to carry out work for Schutz DSL (Australia) Pty Ltd in the course of Schutz DSL (Australia) Pty Ltd's trade or business, failed to provide and maintain, so far as is practicable, a working environment in which those workers were not exposed to hazards, those being matters over which the Accused had capacity to exercise control, and by that failure caused serious harm: contrary to sections 23F, 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused is a registered company under the Corporations Act 2001 and is known as Perth Recruitment Services Pty Ltd (ACN 106 556 905) and operates a labour hire service firm from 27 Parry Street, Fremantle which was established in 2004.

Schutz DSL (Australia) Pty Ltd (ACN 009 069 907) ("Schutz") (formerly Thames DSL Drum Services Pty Ltd) operates a drum packing and cleaning business at 152 Cockburn Road, North Coogee ("the workplace").

On 28 December 2006 the Accused was the employer of the injured person. The Accused had an arrangement with Schutz for the Accused to provide workers to work at the workplace. The Accused invoiced Schutz for the services provided by these workers and Schutz paid the Accused and the Accused then paid the workers' wages.

The injured person, a Brazilian national was employed by the Accused and, pursuant to the arrangement between the Accused and Schutz, was sent to work at Schutz's workplace in the plastics area as a factory hand. He started at the workplace on 21 December 2006.

The cleaning work consists of removing chemical residue from inside drums so they can be re-packaged or recycled. Schutz handled both steel and plastic drums in separate areas at the workplace. The Accused's understanding in providing the injured person to Schutz was that he would only be used to work in the plastic area.

The workplace consists of approximately 5 acres of land, administration offices and 2 large sheds where drums are cleaned. In one of the sheds only plastic drums and containers were cleaned and in the other shed metal drums and containers were initially cleaned and reconditioned/remanufactured.

The shed that handled steel drums contained an electric slat type conveyor system ("the slat conveyor"), approximately 13 metres long. This abuts an idle roller conveyor of approximately 7 metres length ("the conveyors"). These conveyors are sometimes used to transfer drums from one side of the pre-wash cleaning shed to the other.

The slat conveyor had an unguarded 1150mm wide metal walkway that ran the length of the conveyor and sat approximately 250-300mm lower than the open edge of the conveyor. During the cleaning process this walkway became very slippery and was meant to be washed down at the end of each day.

No-one from the Accused accompanied the injured person to the workplace on his first day. He was provided a general induction by the Accused. No specific information was provided to the injured person regarding the environment he would be working in or that his work was to be limited to any type of drum or area. The Accused assumed that Schutz would perform a site specific induction. On arriving at the workplace he was not provided any induction by Schutz but was given a set of gloves and instructed to start un/loading drums in the plastics area.

On 22 December 2006 the injured person was instructed by Schutz to work in the steel drum area. This required him to work near the conveyors in that area. He was not given any instruction in how to use them nor any information regarding the hazards working in the proximity to such machines presented as he was not expected to use them. At the time of his injuries no signs, warning of the dangers of entanglement in the conveyor, were present nor had he received any formal training in operating near this conveyor.

On 28 December 2006 the injured person was working with others in the steel drum area on the walkway next to the slat conveyor. He and others were moving plastic containers along the walkway. The electric slat conveyor was operating at the time. It is unclear how this conveyor came to be operating.

The injured person slipped and fell onto the conveyors at the point where the electric slat conveyor met the idle roller conveyor. Both his feet and legs became entangled in the conveyors at this point. The emergency stop button was located approximately 7 metres from where he was trapped between the conveyors and he could not reach this button. Upon investigation the emergency stop button was found to be unmarked and in a damaged condition.

The injured person yelled to his colleagues who stopped the conveyor and sought assistance to free him. Schutz's employees helped remove him by breaking off the last roller of the idle roller conveyor and he was conveyed by ambulance to hospital.

The injured person suffered severe permanent injuries to both his legs and feet. His left calf was flensed from his lower leg exposing the bones of his lower left leg from about mid calf to his heel. His right leg received severe lacerations and his left ankle was also fractured. His injuries required multiple surgeries and skin grafts resulting in noticeable scarring and muscle deformity.

His injuries include:
(a) deformity due to muscle loss;
(b) loss of sensation in his left foot (heel) which will impact on his physical activity and daily living;
(c) an ongoing limited ability to stand for any extended duration of time; and
(d) the scarring and grafted areas will be susceptible to recurrent swelling, irritability and sunlight.

Subsequently, Schutz made alterations to the slat conveyor in the following ways:
(a) addition of multiple emergency stops along the course of the conveyor;
(b) imposition of a physical barrier and guarding along the length of the conveyor;
(c) fixing of warning signs along the conveyor; and
(d) repair/replacement and re-labelling of conveyor stop and start signs/buttons.

These alterations were done within 14 days following the injury. In 2005 the Accused had inspected the workplace assessing it for hazards in relation to the handling of plastic drums. The Accused had not assessed the steel drum cleaning areas.

Where the labour hire workers were to be utilized by Schutz was established with the Accused but there was no formal process for advising or approving changes in workers' work duties/practices in place between the Accused and Schutz. It was practicable for the Accused to have had such a system in place. The Accused did not provide any of its employees with a safety induction or risk assessment information for the steel drum area.

It was practicable for the Accused to have provided the injured person specific information regarding the environment he would be working in and the limitations on the areas he was expected to perform work in.

The Accused failed to identify a hazard at the steel drum area of the workplace to which it sent the injured person. It was practicable for the Accused to have declined to send him, or any other employee, to the workpalce until Schutz had remedied the hazard presented to its employees by the unguarded conveyor.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Costs $1,630.70

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