Successful prosecutions in WA serve as a reminder on demolition licences

Monday, 30 November, 2009

Four successful prosecutions in the Western Australian courts in one week have prompted a reminder from WorkSafe on the importance of demolition licences.

Timber company Gunns was fined $10,000 and demolition workers James Valentine and Ian McKay were each fined $500. In a separate case, Sean Mooney was also fined $500.

In June, Gunns received several quotes to demolish a 135 m long and 24 m-wide shed at its premises. The company accepted the quote provided by Valentine and McKay without ensuring that they held the necessary licence. Valentine and McKay were fined for undertaking the work without having established whether the job required a licensed contractor.

In the other case, Mooney was given a quote for demolition of a building, the quote stating that the job would require a Class 2 demolition licence. Mooney obtained a building licence for the demolition work from the Shire of Harvey, then proceeded to carry out the demolition work himself with the help of friends.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said that the four fines illustrated that WorkSafe took demolition licensing seriously and was willing to prosecute companies and individuals who carried out work without licences: “Demolition work is obviously hazardous and, as a consequence, anyone performing the work needs to have the relevant skills and knowledge required to do the work safely. These cases should also serve as a reminder that all parties involved in the demolition work have some responsibility for ensuring that the relevant laws are not breached.

“In the case of Gunns Limited, the company failed in their responsibility to ensure that the demolition of the shed was done by workers who could legally undertake the work. The workers themselves failed to make sure of the licensing requirements for the job and undertook an extremely hazardous task without the appropriate licence.

“In the second case, the owner of the building was given notice that the demolition work required a licence. He subsequently made the decision - contrary to workplace safety laws - to undertake the work with the help of friends, none of whom were qualified.

“The licensing of demolition work has been a requirement since 2001 and it was established for the very good reason that the work involves serious risks to the safety and health of workers. These cases are a timely reminder that WorkSafe will take enforcement action against any company or individual that disregards the licensing requirements.”

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