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Lack of personal protective equipment has painful results for both te employee and the employer

On 6 October 2020, a third-year apprentice worker employed by Watkins Steel was cutting the flange off a section of steel universal beam using a grinder. Once that task was completed, he commenced cleaning mill scale from the end of the beam even though he had not been asked to do this work on this occasion, or at any time by the employer. The worker, who was 20 years old, thought this task needed to be done to achieve the required finish. As he operated the grinder, it got caught on the beam and kicked-back, causing a laceration to his groin. He was not wearing a leather apron at the time.

Legal Outcome

The Court found that the company had failed to implement a system prohibiting workers from cleaning the beam until they had sufficient competency to undertake the task. After the incident, the company had increased safety measures, including:

Fatigue can affect the health and safety of workers:

  • employing a safety and quality manager
  • improving its inductions processes
  • purchasing new angle grinders and leather aprons for staff
  • undertaking a safety risk assessment for the use of grinders with a wire wheel attachment.

The Lessons

Employers need to ensure that all workers are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment for the tasks that they are undertaking.

Proper workplace safety system needs to be in place with instruction and supervision needs to be provided to ensure that only properly trained workers undertake such tasks. A fraction of the cost the employer was fined.
Published 15 May, 2022
Publisher Editior
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