You can no longer rely on the competency of equipment hire companies… you share the responsibility of failure!

The supplier of the plant has a duty to ensure the plant is maintained to the manufacturer’s specification, and provide adequate information about the plants operation i.e. the manufacturer’s handbook.

Hiring plant transfers the duty for the plant to the hirer. The need, suitability and performance requirements of the plant are to be assessed prior to the plant being provided for the workers to use. Workers must also be trained or assessed as competent to operate the plant by the employer before being allowed to operate it. At this time any hazard identified must be reduced to a reasonably practical level.

What constitutes ‘High Risk Work’?

A number of activities that generally relate to construction work have been listed as being high risk work. They are deemed high risk as the risk associated with the safe use and handling operation of the equipment that they relate to, impacts on many workers in workplaces. The high Risk activities include:

  • the erection of scaffolding,
  • dogging and rigging work,
  • crane and hoist operation,
  • reach stackers,
  • forklift operation, and
  • pressure equipment operation .

A person or persons carrying out this work must be appropriately assessed and licensed by the Regulator. The specific list can be found in the WHS Regulation Schedule 3 with the regulations Part 4.5 offering the specific application of the licences.

What is appropriate signage?

Appropriate signage would require a completed assessment and consultation of the workers and maybe an external agency or organisation. Some signage is standard and represented in legislative documents and becomes mandatory while others are subjective and should be part of the consultative process. Understanding that signage is part of the safe workplace option and low on the hierarchy of control.

What is ‘reasonably practicable’?

Reasonably practicable represents what can reasonably be done ‘at a particular time’ taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters including:

•The seriousness of the risk
•What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or the risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk.
•The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk (s.18).
After assessing these matters, the person may also consider whether the cost associated with eliminating or minimising the risk is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Where a duty holder is not able to control relevant matters, this implies that it is either not possible for duty holders to do anything, or it is not reasonable to expect them to do so.

What is an emergency plan?

A document developed from a structured risk assessment process in consultation with workers including the HSRs that includes

(i) an effective response to an emergency; and
(ii) evacuation procedures; and
(iii) notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest opportunity; and
(iv) medical treatment and assistance; and
(v) effective communication between the person authorised by the person conducting the business or undertaking to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace;
(b) testing of the emergency procedures, including the frequency of testing;
(c) information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.

What is a confined space?

A confined space means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that:

  • is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
  • is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
  • is or is likely to be a risk to health and safety from:
    • an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level, or
    • contaminants, including airborne gases, vapours and dusts, that may cause injury from fire or explosion, or
    • harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants, or
    • engulfment.

Confined spaces are commonly found in vats, tanks, pits, pipes, ducts, flues, chimneys, silos, containers, pressure vessels, underground sewers, wet or dry wells, shafts, trenches, tunnels or other similar enclosed or partially enclosed structures.

There are mandatory WHS Regulations regarding entering confined spaces which require entry permits, gas monitoring, risk assessments and training of staff. Further advice on what should be done regarding confined spaces can be found in the Confined Spaces Code of Practice 2011.

Recent Prosecutions

Prosecutions are an essential part of the Department’s role as a regulator and assist in prevention by deterring others from committing workplace health and safety offences. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland aims to ensure prosecution activity is strategically targeted for maximum impact and is supported by evidence based research to help target identified areas of concern.

Year Total No. of Prosecutions Completed % Successful Prosecutions Fine$ Costs$
2006-07 126 81% 2,952,950    232,722.00
2007-08 105 83% 2,788,700 84,193.25
2008-09 146 90% 3,312,750    282,281.23
2009-10 117 89% 3,918,350    414,347.54
2010-11 99 83% 2,819,900    257,874.10
2011-12* 98 73.4% 2,924,400 236,830.68
2012-13** 105 63% 2,328,500 221,395.95
2013-14*** 40 67.5% 1,722,500 80,864

* These figures include three (3) prosecutions conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Legal and Prosecution Services under the Electrical Safety Act 2003.

** These figures include six (6) prosecutions conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Legal and Prosecution Services under the Electrical Safety Act 2003.

*** These figures were for the 2013-2014 financial year to date as at 31/03/2014.  The figures include two (2) prosecutions conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Legal and Prosecution Services under the Electrical Safety Act 2003.


Finalised prosecutions

The following list shows Workplace Health and Safety finalised prosecutions for the period 1 January 2014 – 30 March 2014.

Name of Defendant Section of Act or Regulation Fine
1 Marglen Pty Ltd s.32 WHSA 2011– Duty 21(2) $120,000
2 N.K. Collins Industries Pty Ltd s.28(2) WHS Act 1995 $50,000
3 Spencer, Hugh John s.32 WHSA– Duty 27(1) Defendant placed on 12 month good behaviour bond with a surety of $10,000
4 T & S Trees Pty Ltd s.32 WHSA 2011- Duty 19(1) $45,000.00 fine plus court ordered undertaking for 12 months with a surety of $10,000
5 Teys Australia Biloela Pty Ltd s.28(1) WHS Act 1995 $15,000
6 Thomson, Ian Craig s.32 WHSA 2011– Duty 21(2) $10,000
7 Torrisi, John Joseph s.32 WHSA 2011– Duty 19(1) Defendant placed on 12 month ordered undertaking with a surety of $20,000
8 Victus International Pty Ltd s.32 WHSA 2011– Duty 19(1) $27,500

Recent Incident Alert! Brace yourself..

A school had an occurrence recently which they deemed as a notifiable dangerous incident  ( WHS ACT 2011 section  37 – A serious risk to a person’s health and safety emanating from the release from height of any plant, substance or thing ….) which they reported to Worksafe Queensland.  A bracing arm in a shade structure fell to the ground from a height of about two metres pivoting around an end that was still attached to a post.  Fortunately, the incident happened at a time when students were in class.  On investigation, the nut securing the bolt to the post and arm was missing.  This event is not a “one off” as we are aware of at least one other incident at one of our school clients where a brace fell and struck a student.  A review of both incidents indicates the possibility that in certain situations the wind across tight shade sails can make the whole structure vibrate and this vibration can in turn loosen fixings.


1. Ensure lock tight nuts are fitted throughout the structure and each nut is torque sealed to make inspection easy.
2. Ensure that the integrity of fittings on shade structures is included in your playground equipment checklist.
3. Ensure your playground equipment inspections are being completed weekly and recorded.