The defendant held duties under s.19(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking, namely a construction company. It supplied and installed supporting posts, steel wire infill and handrails on a stairwell leading up to and including the external deck of a house.
The tradespeople were unable to complete the stainless steel wire infill for the balustrade and left the workplace the day before the incident. A member of the public was lawfully at the house for a social occasion, on the partially completed deck which had voids on the handrail. She fell through one of the voids onto the ground two metres below sustaining spinal and brain injuries.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on 13 February 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 Trevor Morgan fined the defendant $25,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,071.40. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the court acknowledged that the circumstances that led to the fall were unusual, but were foreseeable. Magistrate Trevor Morgan recognised that while the homeowner gave no indication that the balcony was to be used for a social function, the defendant should have considered the risk and placed a barrier across the gap.
In deciding the penalty, Magistrate Morgan took into account that 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. In addition the defendant company director had demonstrated his remorse through the completion of a working at heights course.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
Visit the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website for information on:
- Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021 (PDF, 3.9 MB)
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Managing risk
- Slips, trips and falls - risk management
- Date of offence:
- Brain and Spinal Injuries
- Pine Rivers Magistrates Court
- Mr Trevor Morgan
- s.32 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Fined $25 000
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: