The defendant company held duties under section 306D(4) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 being a person in charge of a business or undertaking. The defendant was a small family company providing edge protection on construction sites, including residential projects.
On 20 February 2014, the defendant was engaged by a roofing company to install fall protection at a house where a new roof was being installed. The defendant did not ascertain the pitch of the roof and installed edge pole protection that was insufficient for a roof with a pitch greater than 26 degrees.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 5 February 2016 to breaching section 306D(4) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Terry Gardiner fined the defendant $1000 and ordered professional costs totalling $800. The magistrate also made a training order pursuant to s.241 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, that the defendant arrange for its manager and workers to undertake a training course in working safely at heights. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate recognised the need to ensure safety for people working at heights. The magistrate noted that the penalty must reflect the intention of parliament, the need for specific deterrence and the need to send a message to others to have appropriate protection for people working at heights. Although penalties could be quite severe, in this case there was a breach of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 as opposed to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and no injury manifested from the breach.
In deciding the penalty, Magistrate Gardiner took into account that the defendant was a small family company and had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach. The defendant had 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)
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of fall form heights, obligation holders must have:
- fall prevention controls in place (e.g. edge protection) to prevent a person falling any distance OR, if this is not practicable
- fall arrest controls (e.g. catch platform) that prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 sets out specific requirements for these types of control measures (s 306E to s 306J).
Note: where the risk of falling is three metres or more, lower order administrative controls (e.g. training, safe work procedures) are not permitted on their own.
- Date of offence:
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Mr Terry Gardiner
- s 306D(4) Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- $1000 fine plus training order
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: