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Details of successful prosecution against E228435

Incident description

The defendant company held duties under s.19 (2) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

It provided facilities for speedway events and the storage of scrap metal to sell in the form of car chassis and other recyclable metals, including a grandstand constructed from modular steel scaffold components.

On 21 May 2016, approximately 500 paying spectators were attending a speedway event. A member of the public and his three children accessed the grandstand to view the race. Approximately 1 hour after the family entered the grandstand, a loud crack was heard. The platform the family were sitting on collapsed, with its components, including 20 steel scaffolding planks and cross pieces. The family fell approximately 3 metres. The father sustained a fracture dislocation left ankle and perilunate dislocation and scaphoid fracture to the left wrist. A child sustain right distal radius and ulna fracture (forearm and wrist), which required surgery and the insertion of three pins. Two young children sustained minor bruises and scratches. By the time of the collapse there were approximately 50 people sitting in the stand.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Holland Park Magistrates Court on 15 March 2018 to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties.

On 28 March 2018, Magistrate Damien Dwyer fined the defendant $60,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1,092.22. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.

In reaching a decision, it was accepted that the defendant had implemented some controls to manage the risk after identifying severe corrosion of the scaffolding components, through its risk assessments.

However, the Court found that the defendant’s response was somewhat glib acknowledging that witness stated that there was nothing blocking the entrance of the grandstand and they had received no instructions, heard no announcements nor saw any signage telling them not to sit in the grandstand. Signage the defendant reported was in place was not seen by witnesses, hence was either not there or put in a place where it could not be seen. Further, the Magistrate identified that a walk by inspection by one of the defendants’ workers occurred when there were people already in the stand. The magistrate noting that it seemed the defendant was satisfied to take the action they did, but were not prepared to adequately police the area to ensure those precautions were holding up and preventing members of the public from using the grandstands.

In deciding penalty his Honour took into account financial statements demonstrating that the defendant company was operating at a loss.

In not recording a conviction the magistrate took into account the defendant had no previous convictions under the Act, had cooperated with the investigation and entered a timely plea of guilty.

Considerations for prevention

(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)

When working in the Arts and Recreation Services industry where there is exposure to risks from a grandstand collapse, duty holders should consider the following:

Details

Industry:
Arts and recreation services
Defendant:
E228435
Date of offence:
21/05/2016
Injury:
Dislocation and fracture injuries to two people
Court
Mackay Magistrates Court
Magistrate:
Damien J Dwyer
Legislation:
s.32 of the duty under s.19(2) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
13/04/2018
Penalty:
$60,000
Maximum Penalty:
$1,500,000
Conviction recorded:
No
CIS event number:
E228435
Last updated
02 July 2018

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