07:31 am, Friday 27 March, 2009
Source: Manufactures Monthly
A waste management company has acknowledged the potential impact of a Workplace Health And Safety failings telling a magistrate contracts worth millions of dollars would be jeopardised if it was convicted.
Barry Bros Specialised Services pleaded guilty last week to one charge of failing to provide andMaintain A Safe System Of Work before Melbourne Magistrate Felicity Broughton.
The company was charged with having unsafe systems of work after a High-Pressure Cleaning Hose and restraining device failed during routine cleaning in the Burnley Tunnel on 3 June 2006.
A nearby employee of another company received serious leg injuries in the incident.
Barry Bros General Manager, Steven Pewtress, told the court a conviction would affect its capacity to tender for public sector work, which accounted for half its $50-million turnover.
WorkSafe argued that a conviction was warranted as the use of high-pressure hoses had inherent dangers and that having chosen to conduct such a business Barry Bros was responsible for ensuring work was conducted safely.
Barry Brothers was not convicted, but was fined $60,000. Magistrate Broughton said the firm took outstanding steps to improve safety after the incident, had demonstrated remorse and been of good character since it began in 1958.
Had it not pleaded guilty, she said, the company would have been convicted and fined it $80,000.
Barry Brothers operates in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia and was contracted by another company to carry out high pressure pipe cleaning services to flush drainage pipes under the Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne.
It engaged a third company, Total Gas Care Pty Ltd to use Closed Circuit Television to check the drains after which Barry Brothers’ employees would clean them.
The CCTV operator was a deemed employee of Barry Brothers.
A fitting connecting a high pressure water line to a control valve failed as did a device to restrain the high pressure water line during the water-jetting process.
The water line whipped around in an uncontrolled way hitting the CCTV operator’s lower left leg causing serious injuries, including a 15 centimetre wide open wound and a broken tibia. His other leg was also hurt.
Had Barry Brothers complied with the Australian Standard which requires an exclusion zone when operating high-pressure cleaning equipment and inducted the injured worker, the injury would not have happened.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director John Merritt said that particularly in tightening economic times safety had to be a priority.
“It is an investment in the future and a fundamental part of doing business.
“If you don’t, as was said in this case, your business is at risk. Financial penalties imposed by the courts are only a small part of the financial impact that injuries and deaths create.
“It doesn’t matter if the people affected by your work are direct employees, contractors, other people working nearby or members of the public. Safety obligations are clear and have been in place, largely unchanged, for decades.
“Making safety improvement after the event is better than nothing, but not much consolation for the person who’s been hurt or their family.”
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