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Details of successful prosecution against E170295

Incident description

The defendant company held duties under s.78(4) and 79(2) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking.

The defendant, a medium sized construction company, was the principal contractor for construction of a large house in Taringa. It engaged a subcontractor to perform work.

On 18 August 2012 workers were descending an internal staircase. A temporary scaffold was erected on the staircase that obstructed access and forced any person using the staircase to pass by an unprotected edge approximately 1.5 metres from the floor. As such, safe access to and exit from the workplace was not provided and adequate protection from a risk of fall was not provided on this staircase.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 4 September 2014 to breaching ss.78(4) and 79(2) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Magistrate Christopher Callaghan fined the defendant $2,000 and ordered professional costs of $750. No conviction was recorded.

In reaching a decision, the Magistrate acknowledged the defendant failed to take measures to control fall from height where workers frequently used the stairway. The position of the scaffold caused workers to move to the outside unguarded side of the stairway which could have been guarded by a handrail. In terms of administrative control, the defendant company gave no instruction or direction to workers on alternative access to or egress from the second level of the building, such as using the outside stairs.

In deciding penalty, Magistrate Callaghan took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.

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 of 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.

For further information, see:


Date of offence:
Brisbane Magistrates Court
Mr Christopher Callaghan
ss.78(4) and 79(2) Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Decision date:
Maximum Penalty:
$30 000 for each breach per s.181(B) Sentences and Penalties Act 1992 (in this case $6000 was cited in error as the maximum fine available)
Conviction recorded:
CIS event number:
Last updated
02 July 2018

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