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Hefty fine over driver injury from stone slabs

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Cosentino’s safety rules failed to protect man from crippling injuries

Hefty fine over driver injury from stone slabs
A NSW district court has levied a large fine for a truck driver's injuries

Cosentino Australia has been fined $200,000 out of a possible $1.5 million in the New South Wales District Court over the serious injury and incapacity of a truck driver after a SafeWork NSW criminal prosecution.

Nine stone slabs toppled from an A-frame on the tray of his four-tonne truck in 2014 and fell on the courier driver who was delivering them for he building materials firm.

The slabs had been stacked on one side of the A-frame, and the other side had no slabs upon it at the time of the incident.

The incident occurred despite Consentino having a number of loading and other occupational health and safety (OH&S) rules and policies in place.

These included: Consentino Cardinal Rules; Trucks Loading Procedure; Occupational Risk Prevention Plan – Handling and Storage of Slabs; Occupational Health and Safety Plan – Using Nylon Slings; Warehouse Procedures – Warehouse Staff; Unloading Containers & Using the Crane with Spreader Bar and Slings.

The case findings do record the driver leaving with a part load, returning for the rest which he wanted loaded quickly in a request to an inexperienced crane operator, who complied mistakenly while under supervision by the warehouse manager.

But, according to the district court judge’s sentencing document, it remains a mystery how the truck came to be loaded in the way it was, especially given the firm’s General Rules for Unloading/Loading Trucks was readily available in the warehouse where the incident took place and that the risk was foreseeable and the potential catastrophic.

The judge notes the firm has engaged Safety Service Australia to review its internal OH&S policies and implement a national set of safety guidelines and policies to harmonise the differing safety standards across sites.

Evidence was accepted of a number of other policies and procedures generally, including:

  • a ‘Global Health and Safety Policy’ which applies to employees in management roles and sets out principles relating to matters such as health and safety in decision-making and allocating resources to comply with laws and OH&S requirements
  • an ‘External Driver form’ which all new truck drivers entering the warehouse are required to sign, and renew every 18 months
  • an OH&S Improvement Plan which is an ongoing action plan to revise and improve the offender’s OH&S policies, procedures and overall approach to safety;(a ‘Safety Tour’ checklist that asks employees to check whether specified items are in compliance with policies and procedures
  • a ‘Safety Champions Program’, whereby one person from each worksite is selected to promote safe work practices and employee participation in health and safety, communicating health and safety effectively to warehouse employees, and implementing hazard management effectively
  • a ‘Safety by Routines’ program which involves warehouse managers recording on forms their undertaking of daily and weekly checks of safety policies and the servicing of equipment procedures. This program is being repealed and replaced with a digital equivalent.

It had also moved to engage a number of new employees with OH&S in mind, such as an inventory and safety manager, who controls stock and oversees daily operations to ensure safe work procedures, and develops new OH&S policies and procedures, and a national compliance and process manager, who conducts a quarterly compliance audit of all of the offender’s warehouses, and explains OH&S policies to new employees and conducts their training when a new site is established.

The company’s ‘no guilty’ plea was unmentioned in the findings’ ‘aggravating factors’, though the driver’s substantial injury, emotional harm and loss was, while a lack of previous convictions and its cooperation with SafeWork were 'mitigating factors'.

Source of article click here : ATN

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