The defendant was employed as a manager by a company contracted to construct high voltage overhead powerlines. He held a duty as a worker under section 28 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
On 12 November 2012 workers were directed by the defendant to string and tension overhead conductors attached to power poles. A linesman was working at height in the bucket of an elevated work platform (EWP). An overhead conductor was being hauled up using a rope, with the linesman's job being to “catch” the conductor. The rope pulling the conductor lost tension and the conductor fell to the ground, clipping the bucket of the EWP and causing the bucket to shake. A safe method of tensioning using a tension machine was available, however the defendant directed workers to use a rope which had been cut and tied. The linesman fell to the floor of the bucket. He sustained groin and spinal injuries.
The defendant pleaded guilty at Ipswich Magistrates Court on 27 July 2015 to breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet his work health and safety duties under section 28 (duties of worker) of the Act.
He was fined $5000 and professional and court costs totaling $839.80 were ordered. A conviction was not recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate took into consideration the defendant was the supervisor on site at the time of the incident and the method of work was adopted at his direction. The defendant was aware of a safe method available, but chose not to follow it.
In deciding penalty, the Magistrate took into account that the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.
Further, the Magistrate found that the system used on the day and the security of the rope used in terms of the knots made in it fell short of what was needed so that the work could be done safely.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the construction industry where there is exposure to risks from working at height, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures.
Risk management involves identifying the hazards, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of harm that may result from the hazard, deciding and implementing control measures to prevent or minimise the level of the risk from the hazard and monitoring the effectiveness of the control measures to ensure they remain working correctly.
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of fall from height, duty holders should consider Part 3.1 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 and the Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice 2011.
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021 (PDF, 3.9 MB)
- Date of offence:
- Spinal Injuries
- Ipswich Magistrates Court
- Ms Virginia Sturgess
- s.32 of the duty under s.28 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: