Construction Safety:Companies Fined $190k For Death of Worker

construction safety

Cement Australia Pty Ltd (CAPL) and Cement Australia (Kandos) Pty Ltd (CA Kandos)have been ordered to pay out a total of $190,000 for the death of Colin David Fuller at the Kandos cement plant in September 2009. Fuller died after being crushed between two hydraulic rams, while he worked at the factory.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission found that CA Kandos and its parent company, CAPL,  breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, by not installing fixed guarding along the entire length of a feeder and conveyor system as required by Australian safety standards. They were also charged for failing to ensure adequate supervision and instruction to Mr Fuller.

In the evenining of September 13, 2009,Fuller was on duty as a central control assistant in the raw materials preparation area, a role  which required him to conduct checks on materials and equipment in the plant.

Fuller was working alone, and left unsupervised.

Mr Fuller the feedlines of  C2 feeder in the Stone Tunnels after another worker informed him that several hoppers were not feeding.

Although it is uncertain how Fuller was crushed, the court was told that he might have been attempting to remove a blockage manually while the system was still operating.

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Construction Safety: AcetewAGL Would “Rather a Disgruntled Customer than Dead Worker”

construction safety trainingActewAGL boss Michael Costello says he would rather have a disgruntled customer than a dead worker and Canberra’s construction industry risks falling prey to unrealistic deadlines and cost-cutting which directly impacts on workplace safety.

In a submission to the ACT government’s workplace safety inquiry, Actew AGL and ACTEW Corporation have both called for tender processes to be reformed to include weight given to a contractor’s workplace health and safety record, equal to that of the cost and schedule.

Mr Costello said the tender process needed to reward companies which built workplace safety into their bottom line, not penalise them in a highly competitive marketplace.

As head of ActewAGL, which maintains and supplies the ACT’s electricity and gas supply, Mr Costello said he was obsessed with mitigating the risk of such dangerous industries to his 900-strong workforce – 350 of whom worked in the field.

In 1999 Actew lost electrical linesman Gary Waters, who was electrocuted on a Hughes substation, having spent 11 years with the company and in 2001 another ActewAGL worker fell seven metres off a ladder while connecting power to a building site in Braddon.

Both incidents still resonated with company management to this day, Mr Costello said.

He believed it was timely for the government to call an inquiry – due to report on Friday – not only because of the four recent workplace deaths but because safety culture needed to evolve constantly in order to prevent complacency from setting in.

“Safety is not a static thing. It is not a case of ‘I’ve done it, I’ve got a safe workplace’. You’re dealing with humans and one of the biggest problems we have is you get complacent, you get bored, you cut corners.”

Since his appointment as chief executive of the part-government-owned utility in 2008, Mr Costello instigated a “root and branch” review of safety systems undertaken by Deloittes. He also hired a specialist director of Environment, Health, Safety and Quality, Dianne King – who holds a Masters of Occupational Health and Safety and has a background is in Defence.

Mr Costello said he was acutely aware of the innate dangers of a workplace in electricity and gas supply – “which is both dangerous to the workers and to the community”.

Mr Costello said ActewAGL was incorporating many new strategies into ongoing safety improvements which included paying cash incentives to workers who reported “near misses” so they could be analysed. He also made a point to meet personally with every worker who suffered an injury requiring them to take time off work to discuss better ways of managing risk. In the last year, three workers lost a day’s work and one lost more than five days following an injury.

While Mr Costello said his preoccupation with workplace safety kept him up at night, he also believed improved safety meant better business.

Commissioner Mark McCabe said ActewAGL and ACTEW Water had “relatively good safety records” and he accepted the Cotter Dam Enlargement was a huge and complex site.

“I am pleased to see that a number of issues we identified on site earlier in the year have been resolved.”

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Construction Safety: Crane Protests Avoidable

construction safety trainingAn 800-person rally at a new Perth children’s hospital site might have been eluded if the building contractor had publicized the results of a safety test, the construction union says.Workers at the Nedlands site put their tools down on Friday after the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union claimed contractor John Holland backed out on a verbal agreement to obtain an independent engineer’s review into a near-fatal crane accident last Tuesday.

The accident was reportedly caused by a fitting failure on a tower crane that brought down a two-tonne block and 50m of rope that almost landed on workers.The CFMEU said Holland agreed to share safety information relating to the crane but went back on his agreement, which resulted in the strike.

Fair Work Australia became involved and ordered an stop to industrial action until the issue was settled.Despite Holland’s promises to contract an independant engineer to conduct the report, Holland has allegedly conducted their own tests on the crane and did not share the information.

“If they had stuck to their verbal agreement, none of this (action) would need to have happened,” the CFMEU said in a statement.

“The incident which caused the dispute was immediately reported to the relevant workplace safety authorities and we continue to fully co-operate with authorities in their ongoing investigations,“ John Holland group managing director Glenn Palin Palin said.

The site has been granted  permission to continue work.

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