On 27 July 2016, Mr Timothy Olsen, Timbermill worker was involved in an industrial accident whilst working for Dongwha Timbers Pty Limited.  

At approximately 4.30pm, Mr Olsen was operating the satellite line infeed unit when a fillet stick became jammed under the lift arms of the tilt hoist, preventing the lift arms from lowering to their resting position. Mr Olsen became aware of the jammed fillet stick when he lowered the lift arms of the tilt hoist to receive a new pack of timber. Mr Olsen then attempted to dislodge the jammed fillet stick by manually raising and lowering the lift arms at the control panel. This did not work so Mr Olsen turned off the tilt hoist and satellite line infeed unit. Mr Olsen did not attempt to isolate the satellite line infeed unit nor did he ensure that it was locked out using a safety padlock prior to entering the restricted access area. To enter the restricted access area, Mr Olsen stepped over the closed and electrically interlocked gate to gain access to the tilt hoist. The tilt hoist was therefore not isolated.

Using a long-handled shovel and with his back to the tilt hoist, Mr Olsen attempted to dislodge the fillet stick. On the third or fourth attempt, Mr Olsen successfully dislodged it. The lift arms dropped suddenly due to the slack in the drive chains. The lift arms struck Mr Olsen on the lumbar region of the back, pushing him to the ground. Other employees heard Mr Olsen scream and ran to his aid by jumping over the closed gate.

Whilst Mr Olsen signed-off on receiving isolation training under the company’s standard operating procedure (‘SOP’) documents, the risk assessments performed on the equipment by the Dongwha HSE representatives did not capture the actual task, current risks or the accepted practices of using the machinery. No member of the workgroup or operators of the equipment were consulted about the known risks. Safety pins were not installed on the equipment to prevent a drop from whilst electronic guarding, such as motion sensor isolation, was not installed. 

Dongwha plead guilty to section 19 (primary duty of care) and 32 (failure to comply with health and safety duty) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) that placed an employee at a risk of a ‘Category 2’ injury (risk of death or serious injury). The potential fine of $1,500,000 was reduced to $90,000 plus costs. The reduction in the fine incorporated the $405, 488.19 expenditure in WHS management systems from 2016 to 2019, their involvement in the local Bombala community and recent financial losses and hardship from the New South Wales bushfires. 

Dongwha was previously issued a Penalty Notice for $15,000 in 2016 by the Department of Planning and Environment for failing to seal a road within their operations. This non-compliance results in mud and debris to exit the site and impact on public roads.

Case note: https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/nsw/NSWDC/2020/9.html?context=1;query=work%20health%20and%20safety;mask_path=