RECEIVED: 13th December 2010
SENDER: ANDREW RENNIE
SUBJECT: THE SLAVE TRADE PAGES
A snippet from a News Item of interest:
Breakwater-based printing company Express Promotions yesterday became the second company in Victoria to be convicted for recklessly endangering the health and safety of its workers.
“The Court was told that company management didn’t just fail to identify the risks – they actually knew workers were in danger, but didn’t step in to adequately protect them,” WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety Cath Bowtell said.
Yesterday’s sentencing was the second conviction of a Victorian company for reckless endangerment under health and safety legislation, following WorkSafe’s prosecution of Orbit Drilling in April this year.
The Geelong Magistrates’ Court convicted Express Promotions Pty Ltd on three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, fining the company a total of $280,000.
Express Promotions was convicted on one charge under Section 32 of the Act, for recklessly endangering a worker; one under Section 21(1)&(2)(a), relating to providing and maintaining safe systems of work and machinery; and one under Section 21(1)&(2)(e), relating to providing adequate training and supervision.
The conviction related to a July 2008 incident where a 37 year-old printer had three fingers on his left hand crushed after it became trapped between the rollers of an inadequately guarded printing press.
The court heard that it was common practice for workers to bypass the guarding on the printing press in order to operate and clean it. Workers had never seen any written instructions on how to safely operate or clean the press. While company management had emailed staff, telling them not to override guarding, there was nothing in place to make sure these instructions were enforced.
“This wasn’t just a one-off issue – employees had bypassed guarding on the press for years, often to meet production pressures. Other than sending an email to all staff, the company did nothing to stamp out this behaviour.
“While a range of options were available to the company - including fixing permanent guards and properly supervising staff - it did nothing until one of its workers was seriously injured.
“WorkSafe will continue to use Section 32 of the Act for the most serious offences committed by employers and individuals - when their reckless behaviour places others at risk of serious injury or death,” Ms Bowtell said.
Following the incident, the company installed new guarding on the press as well as on other machinery, for a cost of less than $10,000.
Thanks very much for this Andrew, you raise an interesting point.
It’s hard to understand the logic behind the penalties handed out in South Australia for far more serious injuries and deaths in comparison to what is happening interstate.
We’ve had the RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT legislation in South Australia since January 2008 and I’ve yet to see it used in our Industrial Courts.
I wonder whether it will become a dinosaur like the old Section 59 (Aggravated Offence) was?
With the National Harmonisation legislation making its way into the system, it’ll be interesting to see just how harmonised this country will become in Occupational Health and Safety laws and deterrent measures.