An Ipswich bricklayer has been fined $18,000 for putting the safety of his subcontractors at risk, following the collapse of a block firewall in 2016 at a Springfield Lakes development site.
Workers from a local bricklaying were erecting the 2.8m high, 11m long block wall, while two labourer's assistants, working for another subcontractor, were marking out the floor for proposed framing in the same vicinity.
A large gust of wind blew through the site, collapsing the 165kg plus brick wall and trapping one of the labourers beneath it. The wall had not been braced or temporarily reinforced and no exclusion zone had been established.
The 32-year-old man received emergency first aid at the scene and spent five days in hospital with a crushed vertebra. He was advised not to return to his labouring job.
The defendant had been working in Australia as a licensed bricklayer since 2009. The magistrate noted the defendant's early guilty plea and that he had no previous work health and safety breaches. The magistrate also noted that he'd put himself, his workers and others at risk.
The court determined that the incident could have been avoided as the likelihood of the risk of collapse was foreseeable. The wall would not have collapsed if it had been braced or temporarily supported prior to its core being filled. This could have been done easily and inexpensively. It was also acknowledged that breaches of work health and safety legislation can lead to serious and permanent injuries for workers and others, some with lifelong consequences.
The defendant was fined $18,000 and received an 18 month, s.239 of Work Health and Safety Act 2011 court ordered undertaking with a $12,000 recognisance. Prior to sentencing, the defendant presented tax records to the court declaring he was in financial hardship. The court accepted and reflected this in the sentencing.
More information on industrial prosecutions is at worksafe.qld.gov.au.