On 23 December 2013, an apprentice worker fell through the synthetic roof sheeting and landed on pavers three metres below, fracturing his skull, elbow and wrist.
The defendant operated an electrical business and was contracted to service a roof mounted air conditioner.
The apprentice worker and the defendant's sole director accessed the roof via a ladder. The apprentice worker stepped onto a piece of synthetic roof sheeting, known as 'alsynite', which formed part of the roof and that had become fragile and brittle.
The defendant company held duties under s. 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Gayndah Magistrates Court to breaching s. 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Magistrate Baldwin fined the defendant $20 000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1079.40. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate found the defendant breached its health and safety duties by failing to assess the conditions of the roof prior to allowing workers onto it.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Baldwin noted the defendant had not been prosecuted previously under the Act, cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty. The magistrate also took into account that the defendant has taken significant steps by undertaking training courses in workplace health and safety at a financial cost.
The court observed the defendant was a small family company with one full time employee and had operated for over 45 years in the local community. Numerous character references were tendered to the court, including by the injured apprentice worker, who has since become fully qualified and is employed full time by the defendant.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the electrical industry where there is exposure to risks from falls from heights, obligation holders must inspect the workplace where the work is being carried out and identify potential falls that may occur from heights. This could involve inspecting surfaces for stability, fragility or brittleness; assessing the potential to slip where surfaces are wet, polished or glazed; safe movement of workers where surfaces change; strength or capability to support loads and the slope of the surface.
- Date of offence:
- Fractures to skull, elbow and wrist
- Gayndah Magistrates Court
- Ms Maxine Baldwin
- s. 32 of the duty under s. 19(1) of Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $20 000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $1 500 000
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: