On 13 August 2012, a first year plumbing apprentice fell through an unprotected skylight (made up of four smaller skylights). He fell approximately 9.2 metres and sustained serious injuries including broken bones, a fractured eye socket, a fractured vertebrae and a compressed spinal disc.
The defendant's business involved metal roofing work and was the principal contractor replacing roofing on a large multi-story shopping complex.
Although the skylight was identified as a hazard, no measures were put in place to physically isolate or guard the work area around it.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 4 June 2015 to breaching s. 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Previtera fined the defendant $52 000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $2583.50. The magistrate also made an s. 239 order that the defendant not offend against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for a period of 12 months, with a recognisance in the sum of $15 000 to be forfeited if convicted of an offence within this period. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the court acknowledged the defendant failed to take measures to prevent the fall from height. The matter resulted in serious injuries with permanent impacts.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Previtera took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
Any voids or penetrations present on a construction site, no matter how obvious, should be carefully controlled. Without adequate control, any lapse of attention can have catastrophic results.
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of height, obligation holders should consider covering all penetrations as required by the regulations and having adequate edge protection.
- Date of offence:
- Spinal and fracture injuries
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Ms Tina Previtera
- s. 32 of the duty under s. 20(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $52 000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $1 500 000
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: