800kg metal slab crushes worker
A West Australian scrap metal business has been prosecuted after a Chinese national who spoke little English was crushed to death by an 800kg metal slab.
The incident happened in November 2011 when the worker was directed to remove a large bucket from an excavator using an oxy-cutter. WorkSafe said he was given no instructions for carrying out this task, or supervision, and was working alone.
“At some time between 8am and 9am, the worker was crushed when an 800kg piece of the upper part of the bucket he was cutting broke away from the main structure and fell on him,” WorkSafe said.
Before the incident, the worker had been with the company for nine months. He initially received general induction training, then a few hours of formal training followed by “three months working under the supervision of another relatively inexperienced Chinese oxy-cutter with very limited English”, according to WorkSafe.
“During this time, he was shown how to assess the risk of falling pieces of metal, safe cutting, leaving ‘tags’ and where to position himself when cutting overhead.”
Nevertheless, the worker had no formal training or experience in oxy-cutting or metalwork generally before starting this job, WorkSafe added.
Since the worker’s death changes have been made at the workplace. “Subsequent to the death of this worker, the employer has reassessed the risks at the yard, and individual risk assessments, methodology, JSAs and detailed cut plans must now be undertaken for any cutting job where there is a risk of pieces falling,” WorkSafe Commissioner Lex McCulloch said.
“An additional supervisor has been employed to carry out risk assessments, compile JSAs and instruct workers in safe cutting procedures. These are generally documented in both English and Chinese.”
The business, J & P Group Pty Ltd trading as J & P Metals, was prosecuted in the Bunbury Magistrates Court. It pleaded guilty and was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay $3000 in costs.
For more details, visit WorkSafe.
Published on 13 March 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.