Legislative Council: Wednesday, July 03, 2019



Work Health and Safety (Scissor Lift Control) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (16:11): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2012. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (16:12): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I introduce this bill to make some simple but urgent reforms to the Work Health and Safety Act 2012. I have introduced this bill as early as possible, endeavouring to give immediate effect to the Coroner's recommendations of 1 November 2018 regarding the safe operation of scissor lifts. I intend to consult widely with all stakeholder groups, including building and trade employer groups and unions. I acknowledge the presence of Pam Gurner-Hall, the widow of Jorge Castillo-Riffo, and members of the CFMEU in the gallery today, and appreciate their support for this bill.

In brief, the bill seeks to give urgent priority to preventing any further deaths or injuries from scissor lifts in South Australia by way of inserting new section 273A, aimed at ensuring a scissor lift is only operated when a safety observer or a spotter is present to enable that person to respond in an emergency, and that each scissor lift in use at a workplace is of the same make and model and has the same operating controls. This is a practical interim solution to the problems created by non-standard controls on scissor lifts that were identified by the Coroner. A maximum penalty of $6,000 for an individual and $30,000 for a body corporate will apply to offences against section 273A.

It also inserts new section 273B, which requires the department or the government, within a month of commencement of this section, to instigate a review of best practice engineering solutions adopted throughout the world to protect workers against scissor lift accidents involving overhead services. The review must consider the availability and design of secondary protective systems—including operator protective alarms and structures—and must provide options for law reform that would ensure scissor lifts are not able to be used in South Australia without a secondary protection system. That review would need to be provided to the minister within six months of the bill commencing, and the minister must provide a copy of that report to be laid before each house of parliament.

The Coroner provides his inquest findings with a clear focus on preventing further deaths in similar circumstances. Tragically, the significant and potentially fatal safety risks of scissor lifts have been well-known since at least 2014, yet here we are with another death in 2016 on the same machine on the same site having occurred, and still no action has been taken by governments at either a federal or state level. As my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks noted earlier today, these machines have been responsible for a large number of deaths and injuries not just in South Australia but nationally, even going back to 2010.

The Coroner's thorough inquiry and report on the death of Mr Jorge Castillo-Riffo on the new RAH site made seven important recommendations. This bill seeks to urgently address two of those recommendations, while giving impetus to further reforms based on a review to be undertaken by the department, so that there are no more entirely preventable deaths like those of Mr Castillo-Riffo and Mr Steve Wyatt in South Australia, and no more needless serious injuries like those suffered by dozens more workers. I seek leave to conclude my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.