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Prosecution Details

Offender Tony's Auto Auctions Pty Ltd
Trading Name Tony's Auto Wreckers


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 MI6216/09 8 March 2006 16th September 2009 3A(2)(b)(i) $20,000.00 16th September 2009
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed to, so far as practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which employees of the employer were not exposed to hazards; contrary to Sections 19(1) and 19A(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused carries on the business of scrapping vehicles and salvaging re-saleable parts from them and is located at 7-11 Stanhope Gardens, Midvale. The workplace consists of 2 yards, both located in Stanhope Gardens, separated into areas for 4 wheel drives and passenger vehicles. The premises consists of, among other things, a mechanics' workshops, offices, storage sheds and a yard. Much of the vehicle dismantling occurs in the yard and not the mechanics' workshops. The yard is mostly sand and gravel.

The injured person was an employee of the Accused. He was a qualified panel beater, having done an apprenticeship through Swan TAFE in Carlisle. He was employed as a general hand and assisted in the removal of vehicle parts and the scrapping of vehicles. As part of his apprenticeship he had received some instruction in how to remove transmissions. However, this was limited. He was not a mechanic. Although he had some familiarity with the removal of vehicle parts from his apprenticeship he was by no means specifically trained in the finer details of the use of specific jacks to remove transmissions.

On 8 March 2006 the general hand was instructed to remove the transmission from a Ford Explorer 4 wheel drive. It appears that there were two systems of work for the removal of gear boxes and transmissions in operation at the workplace. The first, and the one he usually employed was to remove the transmission in the yard. This involved supporting the transmission on the extended tines of a forklift, unfastening the transmission and then removing the transmission as it was balanced on the tines of the forklift.

The second method of removing transmissions was that it be performed in the workshop. This involved raising the vehicle on a hoist and then placing a purpose built transmission jack under the transmission and lowering the transmission onto this jack. The general hand had removed transmissions from this type of vehicle previously without incident. However, he had only performed this task in the yard using a forklift.

On 8 March 2006 the mechanic was away on leave. Instead of working in the yard the general hand asked if he might perform this task in the workshop. He was granted permission to work in the workshop.

The general hand had never removed a transmission in the workshop before nor was he provided any instruction or training in how to perform this task by his employer. He raised the vehicle on the hoist and placed a trolley or floor jack under the transmission. Although physically capable of supporting the weight of the transmission such a jack has a very narrow lifting point and is not designed to balance the transmission on it. A purpose built transmission jack is intended to be used in this procedure. Such jacks have either a wider surface for the transmission to rest on or have a cradle to support the transmission as it is lowered or raised. Such a jack was available in the workshop. The general hand was aware that such a jack existed but did not know that it was required for the removal of a transmission, only the installation of a transmission. The vehicle manufacturer's specifications stipulate that this procedure is to be performed with a transmission jack. No information from the manufacturer regarding the removal of transmissions from this type of vehicle was on site or was shown to the general hand. This information was readily available from the manufacturer.

The general hand removed the transmission with it balanced on the floor jack, supporting it with his hand. As it was being removed the transmission fell and crushed his right forearm between it and the floor. He required surgery to repair the immediate injuries to his hand. He has ongoing issues with the hand and has been restricted to light duties since the accident.

The general hand's training consisted of practical on-the-job training. He was instructed to seek help where he thought he required it. His employer, and his supervisor, both assumed that he had the requisite knowledge to perform this task due to his panel beating apprenticeship. However, it appears that neither enquired as to his ability to perform this task and neither provided him any instruction in how to perform this task.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Midland
Costs $1,200.70

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