Contractor’s guilt no mitigation for employer’s culpability

Thursday, 29 November, 2007

A NSW company has been fined $130,000 for risks taken by one of their contractors.

In 2003, an environmental consultant contracted to ABB Australia was electrocuted while carrying out an inspection of a site in the process of being decommissioned.

The court heard that ABB was aware the contractor would be at the site to conduct the hazardous materials audit and arrangements had been made to induct, however its representatives had forgotten and the induction never took place.

The contractor broadly discussed with ABB’s representative the work he was going to perform, but there was no detailed analysis of possible dangers.

ABB was aware of the contractor’s intention to inspect lighting and take samples of the building and confirmed he could use an overhead crane to inspect the roof, but he was not warned to stay away from live electrical wires located at the end of the crane.

The court found ABB guilty of breaching the OHS Act s8(2), for failing to ensure non-employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

In handing down sentence the Justice noted the contractor’s employer had been prosecuted and found guilty over the incident, but thought there was no significant difference in the culpability between the contractor and ABB.

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