Auto component maker fined for unsafe work system

Source: Safe at Work

Auto component maker Monroe Australia has been fined more than $30,000 last Monday for failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work after an employee was injured in 2008 while performing a task that was determined to be unsafe and later found to be unnecessary.

The incident occurred at the company's Clovelly Park premises, where it manufactures shock absorbers and associated products.

Monroe had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of breaching section 19(1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 in that it failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work.

The employee, a storeman at the facility, was concussed and injured his neck and back after falling backwards three metres onto a concrete floor. The employee eventually returned to full duties despite ongoing hearing problems.

The task that led to the employee's injury involved constantly climbing a ladder to hook slings to bundles of steel tubing stacked high in stillages, so that they could be moved by crane for cutting. The
storeman was engaged in this task, when the incident occurred.

The prosecution's case was about the system of work which necessitated the ladders use.

The industrial court was told that after the incident, the system of work was modified to place the stillages at ground level, which eliminated the use of ladders altogether.

The magistrate said constant use of the ladder in the system that prevailed at the time placed an employee at risk of significant injury.

The company was fined $33,750, after a discount of 25% to acknowledge the company's cooperation, contrition, assistance to the injured worker and remedial action.

SafeWork SA acting executive director, Bryan Russell said the ease with which the hazard of the ladder was eliminated after the event shows what could have been achieved had a proper safety evaluation been done beforehand.

Monroe is a manufacturer and supplier of shock absorber and ride control products for the Australia and New Zealand market.