A Henderson engineering company has been fined $10,000 for allowing workers to do high risk work when they did not hold a licence for that class of work.

KEP Management Services Pty Ltd – trading as Phillips Engineering – pleaded guilty to two charges of allowing unlicensed dogging work and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court this week.

One of the workers at the company’s main workshop and yard was a 16-year-old first-year apprentice boilermaker. The company’s crane operator had been teaching the apprentice dogging work including slinging and directing loads.

In September 2011, the apprentice was asked to do dogging work to shift some steel. Under the direction of the crane operator, he was directing the crane to piles of steel then slinging the loads.

When the crane operator was happy with the slinging, he would nod to the apprentice, who would then move aside while the load was lifted to his chest height, and he would then guide the load with his hands.

The work continued the following day, with the apprentice asked to sling three steel beams of varying lengths up to 8 metres. These beams were to be placed on timber gluts, and the apprentice placed these timbers on top of the beams.

When the load reached its destination, the apprentice reached for the gluts and the crane jolted. One of the steel beams rolled inwards and trapped the apprentice’s hand between the beams.

His right index and middle fingers were amputated to the middle knuckles.

When WorkSafe investigated the incident, it was found that no-one in the workplace held a dogging licence, although several employees had performed dogging work and the crane operator had taught the apprentice dogging work.

A High Risk Work Licence for dogging work cannot be granted to anyone under the age of 18 years.

Three days after this incident, WorkSafe issued the company with an Improvement Notice requiring any person doing dogging work at the workplace to hold a Dogging Licence.

Within a week, the company engaged a worker with a licence for a number of classes of High Risk Work, including dogging. In addition, all supervisors were instructed that dogging work must be done only by a person holding the appropriate licence.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today that the case reinforced the need for appropriate training in workplaces.

“The fact that dogging is considered high risk work should send a very clear message that the work should not be done by workers who are not properly trained,” Mr McCulloch said.

“A 16-year-old apprentice is not likely to be in a position to refuse to do work he is not licensed to do, which makes the situation that existed at this workplace even more worrying.

“All employers should be aware that WorkSafe inspectors visiting workplaces where high risk work is being carried out will always check that that only licence holders are performing those duties.

“This case should serve as a warning that WorkSafe will take enforcement action that could prove to be costly if workplace safety laws are being breached.”

A WorkSafe WA report. Further information on High Risk Work Licences can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website atwww.worksafe.wa.gov.au.