The City of Armadale and the former manager of its landfill facility have been fined a total of $59500 plus costs after a member of the public was seriously injured at the landfill site.

The City of Armadale pleaded guilty as an employer to failing to ensure the safety and health of a person who was not their employee, and also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice, and was fined a total of $47000 plus costs of $5510 in the Armadale Magistrates Court yesterday.

Robert George Druid-Sutton (now retired), the former manager of the City’s Waste Services Division which included the Hilbert landfill site, pleaded guilty to being the manager when the City of Armadale was guilty of the above offence and that the offence occurred with his consent or neglect. He was fined $12500 plus costs of $4950.

In August 2014, a member of the public visiting the landfill site was putting the tailgate back on his trailer after unloading green waste and was struck by a loader driven by a site supervisor employed by the City of Armadale.

He suffered very serious injuries requiring several surgeries and resulting in chronic pain and depression and leaving him unable to work since the incident.

Mr Druid-Sutton knew there was no Safe Work Procedure for the operation of loaders at the site while it was open to the public (leading to a need for spotters, which were not in place during this incident), and there were no reversing cameras on the loaders.

There had been several previous incidents involving mobile plant in City of Armadale workplaces and, more importantly, WorkSafe notices had been issued and not adequately addressed.

The City of Armadale’s practices continued even though two WorkSafe Improvement Notices directed the City to ensure that the movement of vehicles and plant was managed in a way that minimised the risk of injury to pedestrians and vehicle operators.
Furthermore, the day after this incident, the City was issued with a Prohibition Notice instructing the employer not to operate loaders near members of the public. CCTV footage shows that the practice continued despite the Prohibition Notice, leading to the City of Armadale being charged with failing to comply with the notice.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said today the case was an unfortunate example of some very serious breaches of OSH laws that had devastating consequences for a member of the public.

“The City of Armadale did not ensure that safe systems of work were in place for an area in which it allowed mobile plant and pedestrians to be present at the same time,” Mr Munns said.

“And even more worrying, the extremely dangerous practice continued through the receipt of Improvement Notices and even when the City was issued with a Prohibition Notice. These are not issued lightly and need to be taken seriously.

“Mobile plant operating in the vicinity of pedestrians has led to many very serious injuries and several deaths, which may have only narrowly been avoided in this case.

“This is a good opportunity to remind employers that not only are they ultimately responsible for the safety and health of their employees and anyone else who is lawfully in workplaces, but that their senior managers must also accept a level of responsibility for safety and health in their areas.”

originally published: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/announcements/fines-total-59500-over-safety-breaches-causing-serious-injury-city-armadale-landfill