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Prosecution Details

Defendant WA Marble & Granite Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed, so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19(6) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

Background Details

The accused operates a business that cuts larger granite and marble slabs into smaller slabs and then finishing them for use as the top surface for tables, kitchen benches etc. The business operates out of premises in Osborne Park and employs a number of employees.

On 27 May 2003 a granite slab of approximately 2.7m (length) x 0.9m (width) x 20mm thick weighing approximately 200kg had to be moved from a storage area at the workplace to a grinding machine. An employee of the accused was operating the forklift to be used in lifting and transporting the slab. The forklift had an 'Abaco' lifting attachment that was used to lift this slab. This lifting attachment is a clamp that grabs the slab between two pads in order to lift it. The lifting attachment grabs the slab from the middle point of the top of the slab and the forklift can then be used to lift the slab. As the only point of attachment on the slab is a small area at the top centre of the slab, the slab is free to swing during lifting and transportation.

Another employee was instructed to assist in the lifting and transporting of the slab by holding onto the slab to stabilise and guide it. The forklift driver lifted the slab using the attachment and began to reverse the forklift backwards to remove the slab from the area where it had been stored. The other employee grabbed the slab with his right hand and facing the forklift driver walked forward as the forklift reversed. As the forklift reversed the floor surface beneath the forklift was uneven and the forklift pitched and rolled resulting in up, down and swaying movements of the slab. At this point an apprentice stonemason who was employed by the accused, was asked, to assist to stabilise the slab. The apprentice grabbed the slab with his left hand on the other side of the slab so that he was also looking at the forklift driver. After the reversing movement was complete the forklift driver drove the forklift forward and hoisted the suspended slab at the same time. After the slab had been transported some way towards the grinding bench, the slab was suddenly released from the lifting attachment and fell to the ground. The slab landed on one of the employee's right foot and the apprentice's left foot causing injury to both of their feet despite the fact that both employees were wearing safety boots.

The accused did not have in place any formal procedures requiring employees to conduct risk assessments before transporting loads. Nor did the accused train, instruct and supervise its employees to ensure that loads were not lifted and transported in a way that the load was never at any time suspended over any part of a person, nor in close proximity to a person. The accused did not ensure that the person who operated the forklift had received training by a competent person and knew the competencies required by persons who operate a forklift at a workplace. A person who had the required competencies would have known not to transport a load suspended by a lifting attachment that allowed dynamic movement of the load with employees holding onto the load to stabilise it.

The accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 22 Jul 2005
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Fine $5,000
Costs $398.45
Charge Number 34818/05