Heavy duty mechanic fined over serious injuries to apprentice

A heavy duty mechanic was fined $2000 plus $1200 in costs after an apprentice suffered serious injuries when a bus slipped off a jack on him.

The mechanic pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety and health of another person and was fined in the Midland Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The heavy duty mechanic was employed by a transit company in a bus depot in Malaga. Part of his duty was to supervise and guide apprentice heavy duty mechanics.

The company has a written procedure for jacking buses, requiring that rear wheels be held in place by steel chocks, that the bus be supported by stands and have the brake on, and that no one should be under a bus while it was being supported by a jack.

On December 16, the mechanic was asked to move a badly damaged bus from one area of the compound to another. Mechanical parts of the bus damaged by fire needed to be released to allow the bus to be towed.

Two apprentices assisted him in moving the bus, and both slid under the bus at different times to put wooden chocks into place. The mechanic used a jack sitting on two wooden blocks to jack up the bus as one of the apprentices was underneath the bus and was attempting to insert chocks under the bus.

The bus was jacked up higher than the stands underneath it, so it was only supported by the jack with the wooden blocks. The bus accidentally rolled forward onto the apprentice, and his head and chest were pinned under it. He sustained serious head and chest injuries.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said on Monday that the case was an example of an employee disregarding written procedures to get the job done as quickly as possible.

“For the sake of expediency, this employee disregarded several written procedures including the need for steel chocks and stands to be used, and the safe work practice of not allowing anyone to work under a bus when it was supported by a jack,” said Mr McCulloch.

“The accused was a very experienced mechanic, and should have known better than to cut corners and risk the safety of the apprentices under his supervision.

“The consequences were serious, and should serve as a warning to everyone to think again before disregarding safe systems of work, and to always consider the safety of others in the workplace.

“In this case, the employer was not prosecuted because written procedures had been put into place to reduce the risks and the employer would have expected these procedures to have been followed at all times.

“Workers have a clear responsibility under WA’s workplace safety laws to ensure their own safety and that of other workers and anyone else in the workplace. This case illustrates that WorkSafe can and will prosecute anyone in a workplace who disregards safe work practices.”

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