Caravan maker pays the price after ignoring safety notices

Northern suburbs caravan manufacturer, Empire Caravans Pty Ltd (formerly Mitri Konsol Pty Ltd) has pleaded guilty to failing to comply with safety improvement notices issued by WorkSafe.
News article published

Tuesday 03 May 2011

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing

Empire Caravans Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to six counts of failing to comply with an improvement notice under the Occupational health and Safety Act and was fined $5,500 without conviction, and ordered to pay $2,000 costs.

The case prompted a warning from the director of WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Division, Ross Pilkington, who said Improvement Notices identified health and safety issues and gave people the opportunity to deal with them.

“Improvement Notices are a legal direction to deal with issues that are typically easily fixed.

“If Improvement Notices are dealt with promptly, the matter generally ends there. If you don’t, along with the risk of someone being hurt, the chance of a prosecution rises quickly.

“If someone is hurt the personal, commercial and legal consequences for a business or its owners can be considerable,” Mr Pilkington said.

WorkSafe told Broadmeadows Magistrates court that on 30 September 2009 a WorkSafe inspector attended the company’s Campbellfield factory where eight improvement notices were issued.

They covered common problems such as housekeeping, unguarded machines and dangerous storage racking.

Magistrate Jennifer Grubissa was told the inspector allowed nine weeks for compliance during which time Empire Caravans did not seek an extension of time.

The inspector returned to Empire Caravans three times before the compliance date and reminded management of the obligation to comply with the notices.

Empire Caravans complied with two notices - one dealt with machine guarding and one concerned working from heights - within time and failed to comply with the remainder.

Mr Pilkington said maintaining high safety standard was essential for any business.

“Whether you’re a CEO, supervisor or worker, making safety a priority is essential. If you’re a business leader getting involved in safety but understanding what’s going on in your operation is vital.”

“These injuries, caused by poor manual handling practices, inadequate equipment and slips, trips & falls account for 60% of all Victorian workers compensation claims and cost the community more than $1-billion a year in treatment and rehabilitation costs.”

The charges:

Section 111(4) Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 x 6. Section 111 covers the powers to issue an improvement notice, Sub-section four states the requirement to comply with them.