This week two major companies have been fined for their failure to protect their staff from injury.
John Holland has been fined the maximum civil penalty of $242,000 by the Federal Court. The John Holland employee was working at BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine at Newman on March 19, 2009. The worker died after he stepped onto an unsecured sheet of grid mesh and fell 10 metres to the floor.
There had been two other incidents of injured due to this unsecured mesh earlier in the week and the employer had failed to do anything about it.
In another incident in NSW, Supermarket giant Coles has been fined $170,000 and ordered to pay legal costs after a worker fell through a ceiling at a store in Sydney five years ago.
The worker, then 42, climbed over a handrail to access promotional material stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling at the company’s Manly store in August 2007. The worker fell more than two metres, suffering lacerations to the head, whiplash and bruising.
The Coles Management knew that the plasterboard was unsafe to walk on and erected a barrier. However it still used the area as storage and failed to educate the staff as to the danger.
In both cases, the companies were aware of the dangers prior to the fatality and major injury respectively. If the death or injury of workers is not traumatic enough, both events were over three years ago. New legislation would mean the companies and their directors would be responsible for far larger fines.