WorkSafe WA records multiple prosecutions

Tuesday, 01 December, 2020

WorkSafe WA records multiple prosecutions

WorkSafe WA has prosecuted two companies and two individuals for breaching the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Regulations. A machinery operator at a recycling facility was fined $7500 (and ordered to pay $1000 in costs) for failing to take reasonable care during an incident in which a diesel mechanic was seriously injured.

In March 2019, Warren James Piggott was working for Splendid Enterprises — trading as Soils Aint Soils  — at a recycling facility in Neerabup when the excavator he was operating moved, causing a worker who was gas-cutting steel plates to fall and sustain several serious injuries.

An earthworks business and its director were also fined a total of $44,000 (and ordered to pay $5000 in costs) for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment after a 2017 incident in which the director reversed a skid steer loader into a confined area, striking a worker and causing serious leg injuries. Screenwest Pty Ltd was fined $33,000 (and ordered to pay $3500 in costs), while Quentin Victor Healy was fined $11,000 (and ordered to pay $1500 in costs).

A building company that engaged a labour hire backpacker who died as a result of a fall in 2016 was fined $60,000 (and ordered to pay $5000 in costs) for failing to apply mesh to holes or openings in floors, at an apartment building site in Perth. The Perth Magistrates Court found that Hanssen Pty Ltd repeatedly breached the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations by failing to install mesh in the openings in floors during construction of the Concerto Apartments building in Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the prosecutions should serve as a reminder that WorkSafe WA is prepared to take action against individuals or entities who do not do their part to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for employees. Kavanagh added that the two businesses prosecuted had failed in their duty to provide and maintain a safe workplace, while the individuals prosecuted also failed to comply with their duties under workplace safety laws.

“The cases demonstrate that the courts have recognised the importance of both businesses and individuals meeting their obligations. In the case of Hanssen Pty Ltd, the circumstances of the death of the backpacker were investigated and, while no charges were laid, these other breaches were identified during the course of the investigation. The company believed it had a guarding method better than mesh, but Magistrate Hills-Wright commented that the law needed to discourage employers from taking matters into their own hands,” said Kavanagh.

Kavanagh acknowledged that, although the cases are quite different, the consistent message is that failing to keep workplace safe can result in costly prosecution action, alongside the physical and mental impacts of a serious injury.

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