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Details of successful prosecution against E179617

Incident description

The defendant held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a person conducting a business or undertaking. The defendant was a large company operating a Hotel and Casino.

The defendant engaged an electrical contractor to carry out electrical works. The injured worker was an electrician employed by the contractor. Her duties included carrying out electrical work. As part of the works, the worker used and operated an Elevated Work Platform, scissor lift (“EWP”).

On 12 March 2013, the worker was operating the EWP to return it to storage, in the Casino’s underground car park. The EWP was one of three EWP’s stored in the Casino’s underground car park.

The underground car park had a clearance height of 2 metres, which was specified in a sign at its entry. This restricted the ability of the EWP operator to stand while operating it. In the process of operating the EWP in the underground car park, the worker’s head came into contact with a concrete beam. She sustained head and facial injuries including:

  • scalp de-gloving without fracture
  • open, comminuted, floating mobile mandibular fracture
  • nasal bridge laceration.

The incident evidenced a contravention of section 32 of the Act, in particular:

  • operating plant, namely, a Scissor Lift in a confined area (low ceiling space), particularly having regard to the location of the controls for the machine.

The worker was a qualified, licenced operator for elevated work platforms and had trained in various aspects of job safety such as a Job Safety Analysis Course and Work Safely at Heights. The defendant company required the contracting company to undertake a contractor safety review prior to the electrical works being carried out at the Casino. This review required that a contractor evaluation and a Safe Work Method Statement be completed. This was done on 12 March 2013 for the electrical works to be carried out and was signed by the injured worker on the same day.

The defendant company had undertaken a plant risk assessment for the EWP on 15 March 2010.

The EWP had a Safety Check & Routine Maintenance Logbook kept with it. The Logbook provided for routine maintenance and safety checks, as well as daily safety checks. The Logbook required the operator (or competent person), prior to each work shift, and before using the EWP, to perform all safety checks shown on the front cover of the Logbook and to record any faults or problems. The Logbook required the person to tick a box if all safety checks results were ok. The EWP’s Logbook was up to date at the time of the Incident.

The defendant company immediately and fully complied with notices issued by WHSQ following the incident and removed the three elevated work platforms from the car park. The defendant company engaged an agent for the manufacturer of the EWP in Townsville to perform a review of all elevated work platforms. This review found no evidence to link the mechanical condition of the EWP to the incident. A review commissioned by WHSQ reached the same conclusion.

Court result

The defendant company had no prior convictions under the Act and co-operated fully with the investigation. It pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court on 26 November 2014 to breaching s. 19 and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.

Magistrate Ms Cathy Wadley fined the defendant $40,000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1,079.80. No conviction was recorded.

In deciding penalty, Magistrate Wadley 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 from storage of plant, 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.

When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of serious injury from unsafe location of plant, obligation holders should consider the height of plant, the ease of mobility for a worker and how plant should be stored so that it can be safely accessed.

Details

Industry:
Construction
Defendant:
E179617
Date of offence:
12/03/2013
Injury:
Scalp degloving, open comminuted floating mobile mandibular fracture requiring three metal plates, nasal bridge laceration.
Court
Townsville
Magistrate:
Ms Cathy Wadley
Legislation:
s.32 of the duty under s.19 of Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
26/11/2014
Penalty:
Fined $40,000
Maximum Penalty:
$1,500,000
Conviction recorded:
No
CIS event number:
E179617
Last updated
02 July 2018

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