The defendant, Mr Steven Gritt held duties under s.472 (1), 143(2), 453(1), 464(1), and 466(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. He was hired to demolish a residential property and prepare the land for development. He held a valid asbestos removal licence at the time of the demolition, but did not hold a licence to carry out demolition work.
The house was composed of asbestos containing material (ACM) and as a consequence of the demolition works, the site became contaminated.
Mr Gritt was charged with failing to notify the Regulator of asbestos removal before commencement of removal work, not properly identifying and removing asbestos before demolition, not using an appropriate asbestos control plan, not disposing of asbestos correctly or using Person Protection Equipment, and not having a demolition licence..
On November 12, 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to breaching five duties of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having failed to meet his work health and safety responsibilities and was sentenced.
Magistrate Suzette Coates fined the defendant $7,500 globally, as her Honour found that the five charges related to the one event. Magistrate Suzette Coates heard that Gritt had held an asbestos-removal licence for a number of years, and had been issued with improvement notices with which he failed to comply. The court ordered a conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, the Magistrate accepted that the WHS laws specified asbestos-related processes duty holders must follow, and Mr Gritt had access to information about how to deal with this hazardous substance.
In deciding penalty, her Honour took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, had co-operated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty. Magistrate Coates also determined not to make an order for payment of the filing fee or prosecution legal costs given the difficult personal circumstances of Mr Gritt.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
This incident falls within the scope of the Queensland Statewide Strategic Plan for the Safe Management of Asbestos in Queensland and the WHSQ Robust Asbestos Regulator Project specifically implemented to target asbestos related events.
When working in the construction industry namely, performing demolition work where ACM has been identified and there is potential exposure to risks from demolition works causing uncontrolled asbestos contamination, duty holders must consider the following imposed on them prior to the demolition work commencing:
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Chapter 8)
- 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)
Other relevant subordinate legislation to assist with risk management include:
- Date of offence:
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Suzette Coates
- ss.472(1), 143(2), 453(1), 464(1), 466(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Global maximum $25,600
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: