A South Australian employer has been fined $85,000 after a worker suffered injuries to the head after an object from a well-known hazard fell on him. The employer had known about the hazard for a number of years due to other incidents, but the hazard had existed since about 1964. An integral weakness in an overhead trolley system.
Although previous incidents had been attended to, no hazard identification processes or risk assessments were undertaken to identify hazards that may exist in other parts of the system. The informal approach was particularly criticised as ‘trolleys regularly fell’ yet other gates in the system were not assessed following each incident.
The Industrial Magistrate stated that the employers denial of the possibility that a falling object incident could have resulted in a fractured skull, brain injury or worse, was unrealistic.
The injury and accompanying fine could have been avoided had the employer, being aware of potential hazards, reacted to prior incidents by conducting a full and documented assessment of the system and implementing reasonable engineering controls to prevent a recurrence.