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Providing and Maintaining Safe Systems of Work

This article explores the steps that could be taken in every workplace to help eliminate risk factors such as the ones below that resulted in a workplace fatality.

In June 2016 an auction company was fined $250,000 for an incident involving the death of one employee and injuries suffered by another employee. The SafeWork NSW investigation of the incident found that a lack of safety systems and supervision, and failing to train and instruct the workers all contributed to the incident.

One or more of these factors are commonly found in workplace incidents.

The Duty of Care of the PCBU and their Officers

In the case above, the PCBU was prosecuted and convicted under section 19 of the WHS Act for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of everyone in their workplace.

The Officers of this PCBU were not prosecuted however their duty of care under section 27 of the WHS Act says they must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the PCBU complies with their duties or obligations.

Could a Similar Incident Occur in Your Workplace?

Here is a list of steps that you may like to review with your workplace in mind. The list focuses on the role of Supervisors and Managers. This is because they play a vital part in a PCBU and its Officers being able to comply with their duty of care and achieving a safe and healthy workplace.

1. Safe systems of work have been established in the workplace.

2. Managers and Supervisors know the risks to health and safety in their area of the workplace.

3. Managers and Supervisors know how those risks should be managed and make sure safe systems of work are maintained.

4. Managers and Supervisors understand their duty of care as set out in the WHS Act.

5. Managers and Supervisors understand what they need to do to contribute to the PCBU’s duty of care and they comply with instructions from the PCBU about this.

6. Managers and Supervisors take the appropriate actions to comply with their duty of care and contribute to the PCBU’s duty of care in accordance with the level of responsibility and authority they have been given by the PCBU.


You can find more details about the incident at the auction company and the prosecution at this link. SafeWork New South Wales v Pickles Auctions Pty Limited [2016] NSWDC 111

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