Furniture retailer Super-A Mart has been slugged with a $30,000 fine after two employees were injured when an elevated work platform toppled.
The fine was handed down by the Perth Magistrates Court after Super-A Mart pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment.
The case related to an incident that took place in August 2011 in a dispatch warehouse connected to its store in the Perth suburb of Cockburn.
The incident occurred as the two employees attempted to load furniture, including a set of bunk beds, off a set of large metal shelves onto an elevated work platform.
While the equipment had a lifting capacity of 500 kilograms, this did not include the weight of either the platform itself (200 kg) or the two employees (at least 150 kg). This meant the true lifting capacity of the equipment was only around 150 kg.
At the time of the incident, the employees attempted to lift stock estimated at 682 kg, overloading it by at least 532 kilograms and causing it to collapse.
During the investigation, it was discovered one of the two employees did not have an appropriate licence to operate the equipment. Meanwhile, the second employee had only gained the appropriate licence the previous day, despite allegedly operating the equipment for up to three months.
The employees had also allegedly not been instructed in how to properly measure the weight of stock being carried, despite scales being located at the facility.
Joe Attard, the director of manufacturing, transport and service industries for WorkSafe WA, told SmartCompany there are a number of steps small businesses can take to avoid finding themselves in a similar predicament.
“It is terrible to see a business in the position where they are in what we would term a blatant breach of the regulations,” Attard says.
Attard encourages small business owners to create a culture of consultation around OH&S issues in their workplaces.
“For a small business, that might be electing or appointing someone from the shop floor to be an occupational health and safety representative, and have them take a five day course about OH&S issues. Even a business with quite a small workforce should be able to do that,” he says.
“For a larger workforce, we would recommend for them to set up an OH&S committee.
Get SmartCompany FREE to your inbox every weekday.
“Finally, I’d recommend anyone doing business in WA to become familiar with the Worksafe WA website, which is a great resource for finding out what a business’ obligations are.”
SmartCompany contacted Super-A Mart this morning for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.