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Details of successful prosecution against E220702 - Company

Incident description

The defendant company held duties under s.19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It conducted work using rope access technicians. It encompassed working at heights using rope access and abseiling equipment.

On 5 November 2015, the defendant company was engaged to enter the smoke extraction ductwork to remove pigeon droppings. The ductwork was under the roof of a convention centre some 17 metres high. A worker removed himself from the abseiling ropes whilst cleaning the ducts. He stepped on an access inspection hatch that had not been identified and that was not load bearing and fell through it. He sustained fatal injuries.

Court result

On 5 June 2018, in an ex-parte sentence in the Southport Magistrates Court the court found that the defendant had breached s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties.

Magistrate Mark Howden fined the defendant $250,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,089.00. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.

In reaching a decision, the Magistrate acknowledged that the company failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment to identify the hatch and that it was not load bearing.  It was a confined space and no risk assessment was carried out or recorded as required. His Honour recognised the need for specific and general deterrence.

In deciding penalty, Magistrate Howden took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, but confirmed that the object of the Work Health and Safety Act is to provide for a balanced and nationally consistent framework to ensure safety of workers and others and the need for consistency of sentences between jurisdictions.

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 falls from height, duty holders should consider the following:

Details

Industry:
Construction
Defendant:
E220702 - Company
Date of offence:
05/11/2015
Injury:
Fatality
Court
Southport Magistrates Court
Magistrate:
Magistrate Mark Howden
Legislation:
s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
05/06/2018
Penalty:
$250,000
Maximum Penalty:
$1,500,000
Conviction recorded:
No
CIS event number:
E22702