WorkSafe has accepted its ninth enforceable undertaking under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
The regulator accepted the undertaking from Earthcare Environmental Limited, following an incident in July 2016 where a worker suffered hand injuries including the amputation of two fingers.
The worker was operating a cardboard baler which bundles waste card into bales that are held together with wire.
He noticed that a wire wasn’t picked up by the machine and tried to flick it back into place and his gloved hand became entangled in a wire twister.
The worker lost his ring finger and little finger and sustained de-gloving to the back of his right hand.
Following investigation into the incident, WorkSafe found that Earthcare Environmental had failed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of a worker who works for Earthcare Environmental.
This is the ninth enforceable undertaking WorkSafe has accepted under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015; a tool that is increasingly being used, in appropriate cases, as a positive alternative to prosecution.
WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries says the decision to accept the enforceable undertaking was appropriate given the circumstances.
“Earthcare Environmental has taken the learnings from what was a serious worker injury and proposed appropriate, long-term, sustainable health and safety improvements that will benefit not just their workplace, but others in the recycling industry and the local community.
“WorkSafe was particularly interested in the development of a publicly available machinery risk management course for industry and the benefit of this course for current and future workers”.
The victim was not opposed to the enforceable undertaking as a suitable enforcement outcome to the incident.
Under the enforceable undertaking, Earthcare Environmental Limited committed to initiatives including:
- to provide amends to the victim
- to provide further training to workers in the risk assessment of machinery
- co-fund the development of a new machinery risk management course for industry
- fund course attendance for 15 workers from the wider waste industry
- promote the industry benefits of the course to the waste industry via WasteMinz Revolve magazine, the EMA Business Plus magazine, and other communication channels
- make a donation to AT Hand Therapy in Greytown.
Earthcare Environmental’s Barrister Brett Harris says: “No employer wants to see a worker injured and by accepting this enforceable undertaking, WorkSafe has helped Earthcare to focus on real world safety improvements that should pay safety dividends in the future.”
“No employer wants to see a worker injured and by.”
The alleged contravention does not amount to an offence against section 47 (reckless conduct) which would preclude it from being accepted.
The enforceable undertaking meets the requirements of WorkSafe’s Enforceable Undertakings Operational Policy; noting:
- the nature of the proposals in the application and the benefits that would be realised to the health and safety system from them – the activities in the enforceable undertaking will provide long-term sustainable health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry, and community
- the nature of the alleged contravention and how serious it was – the incident was serious
- Information received from any interested party in relation to the contravention – the victim has expressed pragmatism regarding a suitable enforcement outcome to the incident
- Mitigation and remedial action, already taken, or planned, regarding both the contravention and any person affected by the contravention (including victims)
In addition to the measures outlined above, Earthcare has:
- expressed regret that the incident occurred and that a serious injury was suffered by the victim
- implemented corrective safety measures as a result of the incident
- provided additional financial and non-financial support to the victim and their family
- The person’s past performance and history of compliance with health and safety legislation – this is satisfactory
- Any likely outcome if the matter were dealt with by legal proceedings – a charge was filed in relation to this incident on the basis that there was both evidential sufficiency, and a public interest in initiating prosecution: a successful prosecution outcome may have resulted
- Any other matter which WorkSafe thinks is relevant:
– the undertaking delivers benefits beyond compliance
– the undertaking offers sufficient benefit to the workplace, industry and community to offset the seriousness of the offending
– the undertaking contains acceptable terms
– the undertaking accounts for the benefits that accrue to Earthcare by a prosecution not proceeding.