NT cattle station fined $30k over fall from heights

NT cattle station fined $30k over fall from heights

A Northern Territory cattle station has been fined $30,000 over an incident from 2018, during which two workers were seriously injured after a man cage fell from a telehandler while they were both inside.

Hewitt Cattle Australia appeared in the Alice Springs Local Court and pleaded guilty to one count of not ensuring the health and safety of workers they employed. 

While the men were contractors, the health and safety handbook for contractors supplied by Hewitt Cattle contained requirements that had to be met before workers could commence work, but those requirements were not met. 

The company admitted in court that the worker’s competencies should have been appropriately verified before work was allowed to commence and that a risk assessment should have been undertaken, as per their work health and safety handbook.

Work Health and Safety Regulator for the Northern Territory, Bill Esteves, explained that documented procedures are essential on high-risk worksites, but administrative controls such as procedural documents alone are not enough to protect workers.

He explained that administrative controls do not affect the hazard at its source, and procedural compliance and sufficient workplace supervision is required for work health and safety efficacy.

“Providing an operational procedure manual is only part of the duty, as duty holders must also ensure workers are trained, and competent in the safe use of plant,” Mr Esteves said.

“Most importantly, plant should never be operated without a risk assessment to determine whether further controls are necessary to eliminate hazards from the workplace.”

“The Northern Territory’s How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice details a hierarchy of control measures that businesses and workers should use when managing the health and safety risks at their workplace,” Mr Esteves said.

“If a hazard cannot be eliminated, as many of the risks associated with the hazard should be minimised through a number of control measures combined, which together provide the highest level of protection possible, especially if the risk has the potential to cause serious injury or death.”

The company was fined $30,000 of a possible $1,550,000, which took into account charges levelled at the PCBU, who allegedly failed to comply with a written notice to produce requested documents and information in writing.

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