Guilty verdict highlights contractor management risks

by Stephanie Zillman04 Mar 2013

A Victorian boat company has been found guilty over the death of an independent contractor who was hit by a falling hoist and crane in December 2011.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court found Monst Pty Ltd (formerly Lloyd Brewer Marine Pty Ltd) guilty of charges relating to the death of the independent contractor Andrew Lagana. The company was also fined $275,000.

Lagana was killed when a hoist and crane were dislodged off a gantry by a reversing forklift’s mast, and the company, which manufactures, services and sells boats, was found guilty of failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work. In addition, they failed to provide information, instruction, training or supervision in relation to overhead obstructions and risk controls.

This tragic incident highlights the need for ongoing workplace hazard management and risk assessment to protect all workers. It is a reminder to employers that the requirement to maintain a safe work environment covers all of their workers, including independent contractors, sub-contractors and labour hire.

WorkSafe Victoria stated that employers whose workforce includes contractors need to consider health and safety prior to appointment, and that responsibilities extend to all matters over which the employer has control. “A contractor management process, which specifies health and safety requirements throughout each phase of the contractor’s work, can help with managing these responsibilities. This includes scoping the work, the tender process, writing the contract, contractor induction procedures and supervision of the work,” WorkSafe Victoria noted.

The court heard that on 1 December 2011, Lagana asked a colleague to assist him to access a part – the colleague assisting Lagana was licensed to perform high risk work, but Lagana was not. The court also heard evidence that a hazard identification and risk assessment should have been conducted in the workplace to identify specific obstacles and overhead obstructions. In addition, information, instruction and training should have been provided to employees and other persons at the workplace regarding overhead obstructions and risk controls.

“While this employer was aware of the risks associated with the use of forklifts and had complied with WorkSafe instructions in the past, there had been changes made to the workplace prior to this incident," WorkSafe General Manager of Health and Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, commented. “As a result, a worker has not returned home to his family and friends at the end of the day. Ensuring your hazard identification and risk assessment is up-to-date could help avoid a similar tragedy in the future.”


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