On 23 February 2023, a roofing contractor (‘the PCBU’) and its director (‘the director’) were sentenced in the Redcliffe Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (‘the Act’) and having failed to comply with their primary health and safety duties pursuant to sections 19(1) and 27(1) of the Act.
In or around May 2020, the PCBU and the director commenced the final stages of the roofing works at the construction site, installing window hoods, fascia and guttering to various buildings and carports. The roof of the carports sloped down towards the building and were approximately three metres above the concrete driveway. As workers could not reach the roof of the carports without assistance, the director decided that trestles and planks would be used.
The trestles and planks were supplied by the PCBU and comprised of aluminium trestles, ladders, step ladders and planks (the ‘plant’). The director would transport this plant to the construction site before the commencement of work each morning in a trailer as there was no suitable storage at the construction site.
At approximately 6:30am on 11 May 2020, the director and workers commenced work by unloading the trailer. The workers distributed the plant to the various locations around the construction site where the work would be undertaken for the day. The director, assisted by a worker, allocated tasks for the day. The workers were allocated to install fascia, capping and guttering to carports at the construction site.
During the morning, a number of workers worked on a carport located at the rear of the construction site, installing capping and guttering.
After lunch, one of the workers went to the front of the construction site to help another worker install fascia, capping and guttering to another carport. This particular carport was located near the entry to the construction site and was adjacent to the principal contractor’s site office. A scaffold had already been erected by workers earlier that morning.
Prior to commencing work on the carport, one of the workers undertook a visual inspection of the work area, including the scaffold, deeming it to be safe.
When one of the workers arrived to assist the other worker, he saw an “L” shaped scaffold that ran parallel to the front and along the right side of the carport. Relevantly, the scaffold consisted of:
The scaffold was constructed by, or at the direction of, the PCBU earlier that morning. Apart from the step ladder used as a support, the above listed items used to construct the scaffold were owned by the PCBU and were brought to the construction site earlier in the morning.
At midday, the two workers were working on the front of the carport and were standing side by side on the aluminium plank when it failed, causing both workers to fall onto the concrete ground below.
Approximately 20 minutes later an ambulance arrived taking the injured workers to hospital for treatment. As a result of the incident:
In sentencing, Magistrate Bucknall took into account the early plea of guilty and the fact the defendant and director, were good corporate citizens, which was supported by references tendered on their behalf. He commented that the victim impact statement ‘balanced’ the proceedings.
His Honour accounted for general and specific deterrence, in addition to submissions on various comparable cases as to sentencing. His Honour noted that the PCBU and the director were separate entities for the purposes of sentencing. His Honour referred to section 12 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 when considering whether to record a conviction.
Having regard to all matters, as well as those outlined in section 9(2) and (3) of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, His Honour fined the PCBU $40,000 and the director $5,000 and awarded the Prosecution costs amounting to $1,601.40. His Honour exercised his discretion and did not record a conviction against the PCBU or the director.
OWHSP contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sections 19(1) and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Sections 27(1) and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011