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The importance of systematic maintenance and proper fault management of machinery in workplaces has been highlighted today at the sentencing of the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure its employees’ safety.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Keith Stewart said after the sentencing that companies using any machinery in their work must ensure the machinery is maintained according to manufacturers’ instructions and must have an effective system in place to identify faults.
“If faults are found, they must be documented, the machine taken out of service for assessment and workers advised of the faults and whether or not the machinery can be used,” he said.
His comments follow an investigation and prosecution of LPC after the Rail and Maritime Union raised concerns with the company, and later WorkSafe, about the use of a cherry picker (a mobile elevated work platform) at the port. Issues about the use of the cherry picker were raised with the company the day after a fatality occurred on a scissor lift (another form of mobile elevated work platform) at the port. Two weeks later, a mechanical fault with the cherry picker was discovered and it was not removed from service.
“WorkSafe investigated the complaint and found that while there had been no injury to workers, there were multiple failings in the company’s management of the cherry picker that could easily have led to a worker being injured,” Mr Stewart said.
LPC was fined $75,000 at the Christchurch District Court today.
LPC was charged under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 that:
- being an employer, failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees, while at work, in that it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure that its employees were not exposed to hazards relating to the ATB46n Snorkel Boom (known as a Cherry Picker).
The maximum fine under Section 6 is $250,000.
The WorkSafe investigation found the practicable steps available to LPC in order to ensure its own employees safety included:
- Ensuring that daily pre-start up checks of the cherry picker were undertaken;
- Ensuring that they had in place an effective system for identifying new hazards and machinery faults and ensuring that they were addressed in a timely manner;
- Ensuring that machinery with identified faults was taken out of service until such time as it had been assessed by an appropriately qualified person, repaired if necessary, and deemed safe for use;
- Ensuring that they had systematic approach to ensuring that all machinery, and in particular the cherry picker, was maintained in accordance with its operating manual;
- Ensuring that identified faults or problems were documented and that the appropriate action was taken (including but not limited to the removal of the machine from service, inspection by a competent person, and repair or replacement if required);
- Ensuring that all personnel were aware of the machinery’s faults and whether or not it could be used at any given time.