Do your safe work practices detail what workers should and should not do
Some companies miss the point of safe work practices treating the documents more as advisory notes rather than working instructions. An effective SWP should detail both what workers should and should not do.
Rosket Industries Pty Ltd was fined $26,250 after pleading guilty in the South Australian Magistrates Court to failing to adequately guard a brush-making machine. In March of 2011, a supervisor was clearing away debris from a machine when his finger became caught. His finger was lacerated and broken requiring surgery.
The machines SWP stated workers were required to clean the machine at the end of each shift, but the worker told the Court he cleaned the machine up to 20 times a day, while the machine was still operating.
Several years prior to the incident the employer engaged an expert who recommended guarding the machine, the Court heard during the proceeding. The employer installed guards and signage on parts of the machine but didn’t follow the recommendations entirely.
While the employer didn’t completely ignore safety issues, and the worker was told to be ‘mindful of the lack of guarding on some parts and to turn off the machine if it was necessary to put his hands in it’, the SWP was inadequate. Industrial Magistrate Ardlie said the SWP was inadequate because it didn’t prohibit a worker from cleaning the machine while it was operating.
Industrial Magistrate Ardlie said the worker’s actions were “somewhat foolhardy”, and stressed that employers must take steps to prevent workers from suffering injuries resulting from their own negligence.
He fined the employer $26,250, after a 25 per cent discount for its early guilty plea, cooperation and contrition.