WorkSafe WA concern on High Risk Work Licence issues


Falsification, alteration and assessor fine spur employment watchdog’s warnings

WorkSafe WA concern on High Risk Work Licence issues
WorkSafe WA is tackling licences and mobile plant

 

WorkSafe WA is concerned about continuing abuse of High Risk Work Licences and employers face warnings to check them carefully.

High Risk Work Licences are issued to workers who are appropriately trained and have the skills to perform high risk work safely and competently.

They apply to anyone engaged in work considered to be ‘high risk’, including scaffolding, dogging and rigging work and the operation of cranes, hoists, pressure equipment and forklifts.

All are tasks that can have an impact on transport and logistics operations when things go wrong.

The problems, which come at a busy time for WorkSafe WA, gained a higher profile late last month after it emerged a former registered WorkSafe assessor was fined $1,800 and ordered to pay $488.50 costs for not complying with his duties in assessing candidates for High Risk Work Licences.

In the past six weeks, WorkSafe WA has issued two such licence warnings.

Last month, it noted a licence had been altered.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch notes a licence "was presented to a Canning Vale company, and they became suspicious after not being able to confirm that WorkSafe had issued it.

"Upon further investigation, it was found that the licence number was registered to another man who legitimately holds a licence for two classes of high risk work.

"The falsification was not very convincing, with the substituted name, date of birth and licence classes printed in a different type and size font from the original, so it raised suspicions straight away."

Yesterday, the authority raised the case of a dodgy licence presented to an engineering company in Geraldton.

McCulloch says the firm "became suspicious after not being able to confirm that WorkSafe had issued a licence for all the classes listed, and sent a copy to WorkSafe requesting a check.

"Upon further investigation, it was found that the licence number was registered to the man who presented the licence, but he did not legitimately hold a licence for all the classes of high risk work listed.

"The man actually held a licence for dogging, vehicle loading crane and forklift, but had added the code for basic rigging, a class in which he had not been trained.

"The added class on the licence was printed in a different type and size font from the original, so it looked suspicious straight away.

The former WorkSafe assessor, Cornelius (Kees) Van Luxemborg, pleaded guilty to six charges relating to the issue of notices of satisfactory assessment for High Risk Work Licences, and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court.

He his shortfalls had been picked up in a WorkSafe audit of his registered training organisation in February 2014, when an administrative warning was issued and advised that a further audit would take place in six months.

The latter assessment found he was still not complying with his duties.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe WA is undertaking a proactive inspection program to look at safety issues relating to mobile plant and the movement of mobile plant in retail and transport workplaces.

The initiative involves inspectors visiting retail and transport workplaces in Perth and regional areas in the 2016/17 financial year.

It was prompted by inspectors’ observations during previous inspection programs that looked at mobile plant in other industries.

"Previous similar programs resulted in the issue of a high number of improvement and prohibition notices, so the decision was made to expand our attention on mobile plant into workplaces in further areas," WorkSafe director Joe Attard says.

"An earlier program, conducted during the 2014/15 financial year and focusing on motor vehicle repair workplaces, saw the issue of more than 1,300 improvement and prohibition notices, a large number relating to vehicle hoists and traffic management.

"WorkSafe also issued a media release in September last year reminding employers to ensure safe systems of work were in place after a number of serious and fatal incidents involving vehicles and people in the preceding months.

"We’re particularly concerned about spaces in which pedestrians and vehicles interact, where strict rules need to be in place to ensure the work environment is kept as safe as possible."

The inspection program focused on at areas such as machinery guarding, safe movement of vehicles, forklifts, trolleys, storage racking and shelving, order picking vehicles, loading docks safety, vehicle hoists and isolation procedures.

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