Join our

mailing list.

Keep up to date with our latest insights.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Perspective

Systems breach and lack of enforcement leaves employer with ink on their face!

Published:

Share

In order to reduce their liability, it is common for principal contractors to have systems of work which they then push onto their sub-contractors to manage. It is assumed that is enough to avoid responsibility but that is not the case at all. As the case of SafeWork NSW v DIC Australia Pty Limited [2021] NSWDC 143 (30 April 2021) re-established, principals must have mechanisms in place to enforce their safety systems and make sure that sub-contractors are actually applying and complying with the established controls. Failure to do so exposes workers to high risks and principals to even higher fines!

DIC Australia Pty Ltd (DIC) manufactured ink products. They had engaged Buddco Pty Ltd (Buddco) to manage and supervise all maintenance work at the ink plant. During one of the cleaning cycles, the agitator activated inside the tank and the cleaning subcontractor’s leg became trapped between the side of the tank and the anchor blade. He suffered fatal injuries. Other workers from Buddco and DIC also attempted to enter the tank to assist and suffered leg injuries.

To prevent such incidents, DIC had established a base safety system which included confined space entry permits and job safety analysis forms which were required to be completed before work was undertaken. However the documents failed to provide sufficient information on the electrical workers who were not aware there was no external isolator switch or that the plant should have been isolated by an electrician.

DIC was found guilty of breaching sections 32 and 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). In particular, the Court noted DIC could have prevented the incident by:

  • installing engineering controls so workers could isolate the tank themselves;
  • Alert system for workers if moving parts were not isolated;
  • Deactivate plant if there was emergency;
  • enforced requirements to complete the JSA and permits properly;
  • use a lock-out-tag-out system; and
  • obtain approval from Buddco that it was safe before commencing work.

A costly lesson for the company who received a fine of $450,000 and $45,000 in costs.

Key Lessons

Employers must

  • have thorough safety systems which require risk assessments for dangerous work
  • enforce safety systems. It is not enough to simply explain to contractors they must double check the JSA and that permits are completed properly.
  • ensure workers and contractors are provided with enough information around risks, risk controls and mitigation strategies otherwise they risk a primary duty breach

Written by Nina Hoang

Have a question or need advice?

Our team are here to provide the right advice for your business and workforce. If you have a question or require assistance, please contact Andrew Douglas or Kim McLagan.

Published:

Share

Stay updated with our Friday Workplace Briefing

Every Friday at 10:30am, join us online to hear the critical news and developments that affect your workplace. We’ll keep it simple, pragmatic and to 30 minutes.

Have a question or need advice?

Our team are here to provide tailored advice for your business and workforce.

Managing Principal - Victoria

Principal Lawyer and Head of Workplace

Legal Solutions.

Found.

Anything we can help you with?

Fusce sed egestas massa. Praesent eu sem pulvinar, condimentum massa ut, finibus ante. Praesent congue magna quis lectus placerat, tincidunt pellentesque ex placerat. Quisque facilisis quam et augue rutrum, at laoreet purus bibendum.

Join our

mailing list.

Keep up to date with our latest insights.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.