A Western Australian glazier has been fined $90,000 plus costs over an incident in 2018 which saw a worker suffer serious injuries when he was trapped under multiple sheets of glass.
Madora Bay Glass Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Mandurah Magistrates Court this week to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee.
In February of 2018, one of the company’s glaziers enlisted the assistance of an apprentice and a trainee to retrieve a sheet of glass for a task. The sheet of glass was behind several others, and the employee had his two fellow workers hold the other sheets of glass above their heads so he could access the sheet.
He had passed around eight sheets of glass to his colleagues when the weight of glass became too much for them to hold, and they fell, trapping the workers underneath. One of the men was able to escape but the other was trapped and couldn’t remove himself due to a serious leg injury.
The injuries sustained were life-threatening and could have resulted in a fatality.
Darren Kavanagh, the WorkSafe WA Commissioner explained that the case should serve as a reminder of appropriate safety protocols and the supervision and training of staff.
“The business had only recently been purchased, and unfortunately the new owner did not conduct a review of the company’s safety procedures when he took charge of the business,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“The employer knew the practice of leaning glass out from the rack was unsafe due to the weight of the sheets, and he assumed that the employees would know it was unsafe.
“The company’s director assumed that the glazier involved would know not to engage in the practice of leaning glass out of a rack, and there was a consequent lack of training, supervision and policies about the practice.
“After this incident the company introduced a written procedure relating to handling and stacking glass that stated that all glass was to be moved manually off racks, and if employees were caught leaning glass out of a rack, their employment would be terminated.
“In addition, the rack involved in the incident was removed from the wall and replaced with other safer racks.
“Unfortunately, these actions were too late for the young employee who suffered a serious and long-term injury that could easily have been prevented. In fact, the incident could easily have been fatal to both workers involved.
“This case is a reminder to employers to ensure that all workers are appropriately trained and adequately supervised and that safety procedures are in place and being used, especially after taking over an existing business.”