The defendant held duties under s.453 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 which required it to identify and remove asbestos before demolition of domestic premises. The defendant is an earthmoving civil construction company which builds roads, subdivisions, dams and other general earth moving works. It was engaged by an interstate developer to undertake subdivision works which included the demolition of a derelict house, surrounding trees and debris.
Prior to the demolition, the defendant received drawings from the developer of what needed to be removed. It did not make any enquiries or undertake any testing to identify if asbestos was present. On 28 August 2015, an excavator and haulage trucks were used to demolish the house and nearby shed. A neighbour reported clouds of dust emanating from the site from repeated smashing of the house into rubble.
The site was across the road from a school and a nearby child care centre.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Caboolture Magistrates Court on 30 March 2016 to breaching s. 453 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Jennifer Batts fined the defendant $7,000 and ordered professional costs of $800. No conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate accepted that the defendant normally undertook civil construction and was not usually involved in demolition works. It had also been requested to undertake the task at short notice.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Batts took into account the defendant had not previously been prosecuted for any work health and safety breach, cooperated with the investigation and paid remediation costs of $23,000 prior to a complaint and summons being issued. The magistrate noted however, that the demolition occurred near a school and child care centre and that no steps were taken by the defendant to confirm presence of asbestos.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When deciding on and implementing control measures to manage the risk of injury associated with electrical exposure, duty holders should consider:
- Asbestos and demolition
- Safe work procedures
- How to safely remove asbestos code of practice 2021 (PDF, 2.22 MB)
- How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.99 MB)
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Date of offence:
- Not applicable
- Caboolture Magistrates Court
- Ms Jennifer Batts
- s.453 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: