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Builder fined over Gold Coast workplace injury

By

13 December 2019

A qualified carpenter working on a Gold Coast house has been fined $20,000 over a workplace incident which left his apprentice with a fractured leg.

The prosecution by Office of the Work Health & Safety Prosecutor against a construction company was finalised in the Southport Magistrates Court where Hilborn was charged with breaching s.32 of his work safety responsibilities as an individual conducting a business under s.19(1) of the WHS Act.

The court heard that on 4 April 2018 the company had been subcontracted to undertake carpentry work on a new house. He and his apprentice were installing a steel beam. The plan was to lift the large and heavy beam into place using a crane operated by a driver and a rigger. However, due to restrictive site conditions the crane was unable to reach the area where the beam was to be installed.

The crane operator, rigger, owner and his offsider then attempted to manually lift the beam when it fell, fracturing the apprentice's ankle. He required surgery, with two screws used to stabilise the ankle, and was off work for more than two months.

Magistrate Cameron McKenzie said it was the defendant's responsibility to undertake the lifting in a safe manner. When the crane was found to be unsuitable, he should have, consistent with his own health and safety handbook, undertaken a risk assessment which would have identified a safe method to lift and install the beam – in this instance, a materials hoist.

Magistrate McKenzie noted the defendant was aware a materials hoist could be used at no cost to him, as this option had been discussed several days prior to the incident.

A fine of $20,000 was imposed, with costs of $1346, and a court ordered undertaking issued for 12 months, with a surety paid in to court of $5,000. No conviction was recorded.

More information on industrial prosecutions is at worksafe.qld.gov.au.