The City of Armadale has had a fine increased by $80,000 over a 2014 incident in which a member of the public was seriously injured when struck by a front-end loader at a waste disposal site.
The City was fined $30,000 (plus costs) in April 2018 over the incident after being charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace.
WorkSafe appealed the penalty in a Single Judge Appeal and was unsuccessful, so an appeal was made to the Full Court of the Supreme Court. That court found that the single judge erred in failing to find that the original fine of $30,000 was manifestly inadequate and the original decision was overturned and the City of Armadale instead fined $110,000.
The incident occurred in August 2014, when a member of the public visiting the Hilbert landfill site was putting the tailgate back on his trailer after unloading green waste and was struck by a loader driven by a site supervisor employed by the City of Armadale.
He suffered very serious injuries, resulting in him being unable to work.
There had been several previous incidents involving mobile plant in City of Armadale workplaces and, more importantly, WorkSafe notices had been issued and not adequately addressed.
The City of Armadale’s practices continued even though two WorkSafe Improvement Notices directed the City to ensure that the movement of vehicles and plant was managed in a way that minimised the risk of injury to pedestrians and vehicle operators.
Furthermore, the day after the incident, the City was issued with a Prohibition Notice instructing the employer not to operate loaders near members of the public. CCTV footage showed that the practice continued despite the Prohibition Notice, leading to the City of Armadale being charged with failing to comply with the notice.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said today the successful appeal in this matter should send a strong message to WA employers.
“The message to be taken from this case is that employers are responsible for the safety and health of their employees and anyone else who is lawfully in their workplaces,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“The decision of the Court of Appeal and resultant increase in the penalty reinforces the message that safe systems of work need to be in place in areas where mobile plant is operating in the vicinity of pedestrians.”