Workers and their communities in the Emerald area and across the Central Highlands will benefit from more than $400k of safety and injury prevention initiatives under an enforceable undertaking entered into by the local council.

The undertaking was agreed to in the wake of a trench collapse which left a worker with multiple injuries. Workers employed by a sub-contractor engaged by the Central Highlands Regional Council were operating an excavator to dig a trench for sewer pipes when the injured man was asked to pass a tool from a worker inside the trench to the excavator operator. As he was approaching the excavator and trench, the side of the trench collapsed, trapping him.

As part of the undertaking, the Central Highlands Regional Council committed to:

  • engage a registered training organisation to develop and deliver a safety leadership program
  • engage a risk consultant to review and improve current risk management practices
  • engage a safety contractor to validate rectification undertaken and review, develop and improve contractor management processes
  • share lessons learnt from the incident with other councils, the regulator and through local government industry forums
  • develop and implement safety management software and training for relevant workers
  • purchase temporary safety fencing for emergency barricading and three emergency response trailers
  • train 25 staff in Certificate IV WHS
  • deliver six presentations on spinal injury prevention to industry groups across the region
  • sponsor two agricultural scholarships through the Queensland Agricultural Training College
  • make a donation to the local Men’s Shed Association for tools, materials and personal protective equipment
  • supply and install five defibrillators in the local region.

An enforceable undertaking is an alternative to court action and prosecution for companies allegedly breaching work health and safety laws. It has tangible benefits for workers, industry and the community as a whole, rather than imposing a one-off penalty. This undertaking has a total minimum expenditure of $410,103.

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