Injuries at work are often dismissed as Report Only or other category that does not require an investigation. But all incidents should be investigated and promptly. A recent prosecution of a tuna company in South Australia illustrates this point well.
SafeWorkSA’s media release provides basic details:
“On the 23rd of January, a male employee suffered deep lacerations to his right index finger while attempting to clear a blockage of cardboard in a caser machine, which seals cardboard boxes.
On the 11th of February, a female employee suffered a serious hand injury when trapped by moving parts in the same unguarded opening of the same machine.
The male worker recovered from his injuries quickly, and but the female worker sustained serious bone, nerve and tendon damage, that left her right hand permanently impaired.”
The court was told that the investigation into the first incident was poor. In fact the Industrial Magistrate, Stephen Lieschke, described it as “incompetent”.
SafeWorkSA was only notified of the second incident but found that
- “The guard to the opening of the machine was missing.
- No relevant Safe Operating Procedure was written to explain how to manage the hazard.
- The emergency stop button was inaccessible to the second employee who was trapped.”
“Both prior offences should also have caused the defendant to take a more thorough approach to its investigation of the offence involving Mr Bromley [the January 2009 incident].”
- the need for prompt investigation,
- the need to carefully assess plant, and most importantly,
- the need to learn from mistakes.