The defendant company held duties under s.21 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a building company contracted to construct a multi-unit residential development.
Between 17 April 2016 and 27 April 2016, perimeter scaffolding had been erected at the workplace for the various trades engaged by the defendant to undertake construction work. It had been altered and had not been adequately inspected and maintained and had fallen into a state of disrepair. A number of deficiencies were established, including: multiple areas with missing scaffold planks leading to penetrations in the working platform and presenting a fall from height risk; unsecured scaffold planks creating a risk of fall from height and also trip hazards; missing tie-bars and hop-up support brackets; multiple areas where scaffold components and construction materials were placed on scaffold creating trip hazards or a risk they may fall and strike those underneath.
On 18 May 2018 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in an ex-parte sentence the defendant was sentenced for breaching s.33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties.
Magistrate Maryanne May fined the defendant $45,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1119.95. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, Magistrate May acknowledged that there were significant deficiencies with the scaffold, that sub-contract workers had been working from the scaffold during the period of the offence and accepted the prosecution submission the deficiencies had occurred over a substantial period of time (days to weeks) and had not occurred over a short period. Her Honour acknowledged the maximum penalty, that there was a relevant Scaffolding Code of Practice freely available to duty holders that stipulated the need for inspection and maintenance of scaffolding. Her Honour considered the risk of workers exposed to fall from height hazards or objects falling was obvious and readily foreseeable. Her Honour noted that photographs showed the site was messy and obviously unsafe.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate May took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach and co-operated with the investigation. Her Honour further stated there would be no discount for the plea of guilty as it was an ex-parte proceeding.
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 incomplete or defective scaffolding, duty holders should consider the following:
- Date of offence:
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Acting Magistrate Maryanne May
- s.33 of the duty held under s.21 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: