The defendant held duties under s.28 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. He was a form worker employed by a company contracted to complete formwork at a bridge construction site.
On 31 January 2017 workers completed the erection of formwork for an abutment at the eastern end of the bridge structure; the concrete was poured on that day. Following the pour the defendant was appointed as supervisor by his employer. The regular supervisor went on leave and the defendant was tasked with supervising workers on site.
On 1 February 2017 the defendant removed componentry (8 'Z Bars') from the formwork to the abutment. The formwork supported a work platform approximately 1.5 metres above the ground. He did not notify workers of the removal of the 'Z Bars'. The following day two other workers accessed the work platform to commence dismantling the formwork; it became unstable and collapsed. The removal of the 'Z-Bars' was the cause of the collapse. One worker sustained fracture injuries to the left arm, right shin and dislocation of the right ankle, the other sustained ligament injuries to the right shoulder.
The court heard the defendant received adequate training and site inductions and was aware of, but failed to follow a documented Job Safety Analysis (JSA and Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) worksheet for formwork- Fabrication, Erection and Dismantling) which identified the hazard and associated risks of formwork collapse. The Formwork Code of Practice 2016 identifies and sets out known hazards and risks of formwork along with suitable control measures at section 4.3 'Stripping Formwork'.
Specifications required the formwork to remain in place for 72 hours or three days after the concrete pour and the defendant was aware that the formwork had to remain in place to allow the concrete to cure. The removal of the 'Z Bars' by the defendant was done one day before the time specified, and should not have been removed until the entire structure was ready to be stripped.
The defendant attributed his actions to being made supervisor for the first time and admitted he was focussed on productivity rather than safety issues.
On 25 September 2018 the defendant pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet his work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Clarke fined him $3,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,095.80. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
The Magistrate decided the appropriate penalty for the breach would be $7,500, recognising the need for general deterrence. However, taking into account the defendant's age and personal circumstances, character references provided, ongoing friendship with the injured workers, demonstrated remorse including entering a plea at the earliest opportunity, co-operation with the investigation and lack of previous convictions, Magistrate Clarke discounted the fine to $3,000.
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 fall from heights, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures.
Risk management involves identifying the hazards, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of harm that may result from the hazard, deciding and implementing control measures to prevent or minimise the level of the risk from the hazard and monitoring the effectiveness of the control measures to ensure they remain working correctly.
- Date of offence:
- Fracture and ligament injuries
- Rockhampton Magistrates Court
- Jeffrey Clarke
- s.32 of the duty under s.28 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- $3,000 fine
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: