Monday 01 February 2016

Hospital fined $50,000 after elderly woman struck by 660 litre bin

A Malvern hospital was fined $50,000 without conviction after an incident in which an elderly woman was injured when knocked to the ground by an overfilled waste bin.

Cabrini Health Limited was charged with one count of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to ensure people other than employees were not exposed to risks to health or safety.

The company pleaded guilty in the Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court last week. It was also ordered to pay over $4,500 in costs.

The court heard that on 30 July 2014, the elderly woman and her daughter were in the elevator foyer to the hospital’s underground car park. As the daughter was paying for her ticket, the woman, who was standing behind her, was struck by a bin loaded with cardboard waste as it was wheeled through the foyer by a cleaner.

The elderly woman, who was using a walking frame, was knocked to the floor. She suffered head injuries and a fractured hip requiring surgery, and remained in hospital for 10 days.

The court heard that cardboard waste was usually collected directly from a designated waste dock. However, as construction works were being undertaken at the site, waste bins were redirected and moved through the elevator foyer of the car park to another collection area.

The court also heard that the 660 litre bin was overloaded with cardboard which restricted the cleaner’s view as the bin was being moved.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said employers had to consider risks to the public as well as their employees when undertaking any activity.

“We know that hospitals are incredibly busy, and there is a lot of close proximity between the public and staff. But due care has to be taken to ensure the public is protected from any form of injury while employees go about their duties,” Ms Williams said.

“In this case, a second staff member should have been employed to help move the bin, and to act as a spotter to ensure there was no risk of colliding with any person or object.

“Leaving a single worker to navigate an overfilled commercial-sized piece of equipment through a public area created a risk of collision or injury.

“These are the kind of situations that can be prevented through simple measures such as developing an appropriate traffic management plan, and following good handling guidelines to ensure bins are not overfilled.”

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Peter Flaherty: 0478 881 663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Caitlin Rode: 0434 685 577, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.