WorkSafe Vic: Company fined $42,000 for safety failings

Source: WorkSafe Vic

A garbage collection company was fined $42,000 yesterday over an incident where a 92kg bin lifting arm, fitted to a garbage truck, fell suddenly and struck a worker on the head.

The incident left the worker with serious injuries to his scalp, requiring about 40 stitches, and he was unable to work for six weeks after the incident, the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court heard.

Citywide Service Solutions today pleaded guilty to an offence under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide proper information, instruction, training, and supervision to the injured worker.

The company, which provides waste management services to councils, also pleaded guilty to failing to notify WorkSafe about the incident under section 38 of the Act.

The incident happened in Bulleen in March last year when the Citywide truck driver had noticed an oil leak near the garbage truck's bin lifting arm, and called a company mechanic to come and repair it at the roadside.

The court heard how during the course of those repairs, the hydraulic pressure holding up the bin lifting arm was released, causing the 92kg arm to drop rapidly, striking the truck driver forcibly on the head.

Despite the worker's serious lacerations, the company mistakenly believed that because the worker was discharged from hospital on the same day, there was no need to notify WorkSafe about the incident.

WorkSafe first became aware of the incident five days later, when the injured worker contacted them directly, the court heard.

A WorkSafe investigation found that the company should have fitted a safety strap when conducting repairs to the bin lifter arm, as recommended in a safety bulletin released by the supplier.

This would have kept the bin lifting arm raised, even if the hydraulics failed. The cost of this safety strap was less than $160.

The investigation also found the worker had not been instructed or trained not to stand underneath the bin lifting arm when it was being serviced, as he should have been.

Magistrate Collins convicted and fined the company $40,000 for failing to provide a safe system of work and proper information instruction training and supervision, and fined them a further $2,000 without conviction for failing to notify WorkSafe about the incident. WorkSafe's General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger said the incident could have been easily avoided if the company had assessed all the risks.

<"It also serves as a reminder to businesses to take their legal obligation to notify WorkSafe about incidents seriously, as failing to do so could end up in court."

Further Information

Media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso - 0478 305 640

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800-136-089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001