New scissor lift safety laws introduced by SA-BEST

3 July 2019

Scissor lifts will not be able to be operated in South Australia unless a safety observer – or spotter – is present at all times, under proposed new laws introduced today by SA-BEST.

SA-BEST MLC, Frank Pangallo, today introduced a Private Member’s Bill - which if passed - will bring into force a number of recommendations made by recently-retired State Coroner, Mark Johns, as part of his inquest into the tragic death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo in 2014.

Mr Castillo-Riffo was killed while working in a scissor lift on the construction site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Another worker, Steve Wyatt, died in the same way at the same site only two years later in 2016.

“Tragically, the significant and potentially fatal safety risks of scissor lifts have been well known since at least 2010,” Frank said.

“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 both a Federal or State level,” he said. 

“The State Government has been derelict in its duty over its inaction to act on the recommendations of the State Coroner. It is an insult to the families and loved ones of Mr Castillo-Riffo and Mr Wyatt.

“It makes absolutely no sense to completely and utterly ignore his findings and recommendations – simple, practical recommendations that will save lives.

“That needs to end now. The Coroner’s thorough inquiry into - 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 appropriate government department.

“We need to ensure there are no more entirely preventable deaths - like those of Mr Castillo-Riffo and Mr Steve Wyatt - - and no more needless serious injuries like those suffered by dozens more workers.”

The Work Health and Safety (Scissor Lift Control) Amendment Bill 2019 will also ensure that each scissor lift in use at a workplace has the same operating controls – something that is currently not the case and causes confusion among operators.

Penalties for breaking the proposed new laws have also been introduced – to a maximum penalty of $6000 for an individual and $30, 000 for a body corporate.

Under Frank’s proposed Bill, the appropriate department will be required – within one month of the legislation being introduced - to undertake a review of best practice engineering solutions adopted throughout the world to protect workers against scissor lift accidents involving overhead surfaces.

The review will consider the availability and design of secondary protective systems - including operator protective alarms and structures - and provide options for law reform that would ensure that scissor lifts are not able to be used in South Australia without a secondary protection system.

Further, the review will be handed to the Minister within six months of the Bill commencing, and the Minister must provide a copy to Parliament.

“All workers deserve the right to go to work safe in the knowledge they are working in a safe and healthy working environment – it should be a right, not a privilege,” Frank said.

“Under current laws, that can’t be guaranteed for scissor operators,” he said.

“SA-BEST has moved today to address those safety concerns as a matter of urgency.”

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