By on July 14, 2005

$80,000 Fine Reinforces Need For Training In Safe Work Practices

Supplied by Thomson OHS News

An $80,000 OHS fine imposed on a small family business was “yet another illustration” of the need for employers to adequately train and supervise workers in safe work practices, particularly those working in unfamiliar areas, NSW IR Cmn Justice Roger Boland has warned.

Workshop mechanic Jason Miles, who was employed by semitrailer service and repair company Ace Semi Trailer Sales Pty Ltd, was left a paraplegic after a 2,900kg tandem axle dolly trailer collapsed while he was working underneath it.

Ace pleaded guilty to breaching s8(1) of the NSW OHS Act 2000 and was fined $80,000. Justice Boland heard Miles was replacing suspension components on an Australian Army military tandem axle dolly trailer when the incident happened.

It was the first time he had worked on this type of trailer. While he was underneath the suspended trailer in a seated position, the trailer collapsed. Miles suffered severe injuries, including a dislocated and severed spine, which resulted in paraplegia, and punctured lungs.

The cmn was told he was now an office worker at the company, which had modified the workplace to include a new and separate air-conditioned office and swinging doors between the office and the workshop. Ace provided counselling to factory personnel on how best to deal with the situation.

Miles’ new duties were negotiated with the assistance of rehab experts from Worksafe Australian and a training program was initiated to manage his move from technical to admin based duties. Miles was appointed to Ace’s OHS committee, which meets once a month.

Ace submitted Miles’ use of jacks to support the trailer was strictly against company policy. It claimed he was aware jacks were for lifting only, not for support.

However, Justice Boland held Ace should have undertaken a proper evaluation of the risk and, in particular, a risk assessment would have identified the need for adequate support of the trailer’s long and heavy draw bar.

He noted Miles was working on a trailer he was not familiar with and had not been informed of the need to remove the draw bar before starting maintenance work.

Justice Boland commended the company for the assistance provided to Miles since the incident “even in the context of an obligation on employers to assist and cooperate in rehabilitation.” The company declined to comment.

Reprinted courtesy of Occupational Health News, published by Thomson Legal & Regulatory Ltd Phone: (03) 9205 0681

Confined & Restricted Spaces

Sarah Andrew, CMPA Project Manager

One of the more frequent safety questions posed to the CMPA is the definition of a Confined Space and what areas in a crushing plant would fall under the definition of a confined space.

Common spaces of concern include:

  • Chute under screen
  • Chute under crusher
  • Head drum rock box
  • In between screen decks
  • Inside of crushing chamber
  • Inside bins and/or silos
  • Inside of tanks
  • Conveyor transfer areas

To identify if these and other similar spaces are confined, otherwise potentially dangerous (we will call ‘restricted’) or not an issue, a site will need to firstly look at each individual space keeping the definition of a confined space in mind.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety (Confined Space) Regulations 1996 a ‘Confined Space’ means a space in any vat, tank, pit, pipe, duct, flue, oven, chimney, silo, reaction vessel, container, receptacle, underground sewer, shaft, well, trench, tunnel or other similar enclosed or partially enclosed structure, if the space –

  • is, or is intended to be, or is likely to be, entered by any person; AND
  • has a limited or restricted means for entry or exit that makes it physically difficult for a person to enter or exit the space; AND
  • is, or is intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; AND
  • contains, or is intended to contain, or is likely to contain –
    • an atmosphere that has a harmful level of any contaminant; OR
    • an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level; OR
    • any stored substance,except liquids, that could cause engulfment.

The next time you walk around your plant, identify any spaces which meet these conditions. It would also be beneficial to identify any spaces that are, or are intended to be, or are likely to be, entered by any person and either has a limited or restricted means for entry or exit that makes it physically difficult for a person to enter or exit the space or contains, or is intended to contain, or is likely to contain any stored substance, except liquids, that could cause engulfment.

You would now have a list of spaces within your site that could be confined or restricted. Before even considering how to manage any such spaces, you should investigate the spaces to:

  • Ensure that they need to be entered (i.e. can tasks be completed remotely?),
  • Establish if the means of entry and egress needs to be restricted (i.e. Could the entry point be enlarged or moved to a safer area? Could a work platform be installed to make the task easier?), and
  • Establish if the space can have any contaminants or substances removed prior to entry being permitted (i.e. interlocking on feed bins to ensure they are empty before entry, ensuring that fine dusts are cleaned prior to entry).

By doing this, the number of confined spaces on the site can be reduced and as a result, so will the risk of an incident occurring.

In the case where it is not possible to eliminate a confined space, a number of steps will need to be taken to manage the risk appropriately and in accordance with the legislative requirements.

  1. Develop an appropriate system of work for managing confined spaces with employees, management and selected recognised parties. This may include documents to best manage the following but is not limited to:
    1. Ensuring capital purchasing procedures encourage items of capital that do not have any confined spaces,
    2. The allocation of roles to employees and management,
    3. Training requirements of all those involved,
    4. Suitable communication systems,
    5. Organisation of work to encourage people to consider the risks involved (i.e. speed of works, traffic management, manual
      handling, etc);
    6. Maintenance schedules which minimise entry frequency and duration; and
    7. Most importantly emergency procedures for when something goes wrong.
  2. Ensure all spaces that are identified as Confined Spaces are identified as such through proper signage at all relevant points.
  3. Develop a Confined Space Entry Permit System and ensure that the relevant employees are trained remembering that the regulations define relevant employees as any employee required to enter a confined space, and any employee who has any function in relation to the entry to or work in a confined space or the emergency procedures, but who is not required to enter the space; and any person supervising the previously mentioned employees.
  4. Whenever a Confined Space entry is going to occur, ensure that a risk assessment occurs similar to that presented in the Code of Practice and that the Entry

Very clear instructions on how this may be implemented are provided by the Code of Practice for Confined Spaces and it would also be appropriate to talk to others who you know about this issue to see what they have done, how it worked, and what they would do differently.

Hopefully this should give sites a direction on where they should be going to meet the requirements as set out in the Occupational Health and Safety (Confined Space) Regulations 1996. For further information, the following sources may be of assistance:

  • Your local Department of Primary Industries – Minerals and Petroleum Inspector
  • The Occupational Health and Safety (Confined Space) Regulations 1996 and the associated Code of Practice for Confined Spaces.


Materials were being tipped over the side into a pit behind a bund wall. The operator leant forward to look into the pit and the loader overbalanced forward, catapulting the operator over the top of the machine.

A contract electrician received a serious electric shock and burns when live 11 kV bushings in the rear of a bus tie circuit breaker cubicle were contacted.

A man suffered broken legs and was trapped for more than an hour under an excavator. The man was unloading the 20-tonne excavator from a low loader when the machine toppled over.

A 10 year old boy was seriously injured when he attempted to cross a moving conveyor to return to where his father was working. He suffered severe friction burns to the left side of his face and left shoulder that required skin grafts and a lengthy stay in hospital.

While attempting to clear a blockage in an operating jaw crusher, an operator injured his thumb through the impact of the crowbar upon the side of the crusher box on which his hand was resting.

Two workers were replacing the rubber skirts on the top floor of the screen house. The job required a hot work permit, after this was completed the workers went to the workshop to make new rubber skirts. About 30 minutes later employees noticed a large fire in the screen house.

An operator reached through a gap to apply belt grip to the head drive drum. The belt started to move and pulled his hand and arm into the nip point. His arm was torn from his shoulder as he managed to stop the conveyor by operating the emergency stop lanyard with his foot.

A contract fitter was trying to tighten a flange joint on a leaking pipe in a wet area of a coal washery. He was unable to seal the joint using hand spanners, so an electric impact wrench and an extension lead were used. While using this equipment, he received an electric shock.

A workman was injured when a conveyor belt slipped through a belt clamp. He was kneeling on the belt, marking out a splice when the belt moved abruptly, throwing him off into the rib.

An operator fell more than two metres from a bulldozer to the ground and sustained multiple injuries.

A short circuit fault developed as a switchboard inner door was opened to access busbar and circuit terminations. Two geckos fell across the energised busbars as the door opened causing a short circuit that expelled hot gas and copper towards them.

A portable pugmill was tipped over onto its side when being fed by a front end loader. The wheels of the loader had bumped the pugmill.

An operator struck a steel pin with a steel hammer. He immediately felt a sharp pain as a steel fragment went flying into his arm. The injury required surgery to remove the fragment.

A contractor was attempting to locate live underground electrical cables at a quarry however inadvertently dug the cables up.

A contract electrician received an electric shock while handling a fixed cable. The electrician was tracing the route of some fixed cabling that was to be removed. The electric shock occurred where the cable entered a nonmetal enclosure. The outer sheathing had pulled out of the metal gland, exposing the insulated inner cores.

An opal miner lost his foot when it was caught by a drive shaft that was not protected by guards. The miner was using an agitator drum from a modified, ready-mixed concrete delivery truck to separate opal from mined dirt. The agitator shaft was driven by a diesel engine. The miner’s trouser leg was caught by bolts on the drive shaft.

A quarry contractor sustained skin removal injuries and multiple fractures to his hand when his hand became entangled whilst cleaning sand from a cross-over conveyor.

A contractor is lucky to be alive after receiving a massive electric shock when his tipping tray made contact with power lines.


The victim was near the drawpoint of an open stope when a rock fell in the stope and was deflected out of the draw point. The victim was struck on the thigh, causing injuries which resulted in his death several minutes later.

A truck driver was fatally injured at a quarry when the truck he was driving failed to negotiate a corner and rolled down an embankment. After the truck was loaded by an excavator at the working face it travelled down the haul road towards the quarry’s dump hopper to unload. As the truck was descending the haul road it failed to negotiate a corner and drove over the edge of an embankment eventually coming to rest some 20 metres below. The driver was ejected from the cabin.

A self-employed excavator operator was found guilty of safety breaches after a farmer died in a trench cave-in. As the excavation progressed the farmer kept entering the trench and was told several times by the operator to get out. At one stage the operator lifted the farmer out of the trench with his machinery and told him to go home. However the farmer returned to the trench and it collapsed and buried him.

A self-employed drilling contractor was fatally injured when loose clothing became caught in the unguarded drill string of a truck-mounted drilling rig while he was drilling for water on a farm property. The contractor was working alone and there was no emergency stop mechanism in reach once the contractor became entangled.

The driver of a road train engaged in transporting iron ore was fatally injured in a collision with another road train. The deceased was driving an empty three-trailer road train north on the haul road when the prime mover of his vehicle collided with the third (rear) trailer of another south-bound, loaded road train. The prime-mover of the northbound road train disintegrated and the engine caught fire on impact.

A fire destroyed a caretaker residence at a quarry near Brisbane. A two-year-old child died in the fire while his father suffered severe burns.

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