Builder fined for risky site Ap­pren­tice’s fall costs boss $ 60k

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LUCY SMITH smith@ news. com. au

lucy. A SMALL Townsville con­struc­tion com­pany has been fined $ 60,000 af­ter one of its em­ploy­ees fell down a stair­well void and was un­able to work for six weeks.

On De­cem­ber 16, 2014, T & M Con­struc­tions car­pen­ters were work­ing on a three- storey unit com­plex un­der con­struc­tion at West End.

First- year ap­pren­tice Brodie El­son, then 18, was stand­ing on a 2m lad­der near an un­cov­ered stair­well void when he fell and suf­fered a con­tu­sion to his brain, ver­te­brae frac­ture and rib frac­ture. He was in hos­pi­tal for four days and un­able to re­turn to work for six weeks.

T & M Con­struc­tions pleaded guilty in Townsville Mag­is­trates Court on Tues­day to fail­ing to com­ply with its du­ties un­der the Work­place Health and Safety Act.

Lawyer Valen­tine McKen- zie, for Work­place Health and Safety Queens­land, said the com­pany had ex­posed the worker to risk.

De­fence solic­i­tor Bill O’Toole said the com­pany em­ployed three ap­pren­tices and three car­pen­ters. He said Mr El­son was now a fourth- year ap­pren­tice and was wel­come to stay at the com­pany af­ter com­plet­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship.

“( The com­pany direc­tor), in my dis­cus­sions with him, has made it quite clear that there will never be a void fall for any of his em­ploy­ees,” he said.

“It was a very bad over­sight for which the out­come, for­tu­nately has been quite good for his worker.”

Mag­is­trate Steven Mosch said Mr El­son gave ev­i­dence that steps had been taken in the week prior to cover the stair­well voids.

“On be­half of the de­fen­dant I’m told that it did not have ex­clu­sive oc­cu­pa­tion of the site dur­ing con­struc­tion and that its em­ploy­ees came and went with other sub­con­trac­tors be­ing there from time to time,” Mr Mosch said. “It would seem that, how­ever it’s come about, any pro­tec­tion that was in place was not in place on this day and it’s con­ceded that there was a fail­ure in terms of hav­ing em­ploy­ees on this day be­ing prop­erly in­structed to en­sure that any method­olo­gies that were meant to be in place, un­der the Safe Work Method state­ment, were in place and op­er­a­tive prior the em­ploy­ees start­ing work.”

The court was told T & M Con­struc­tions was sub­con­tracted to do the work by Gilchrist Con­struc­tions, with that com­pany fined $ 3000 in re­la­tion to the WHS breach.

Mr Mosch said the com­pany opened in 2012 and had no pre­vi­ous Work­place Health and Safety con­vic­tions.

Mr Mosch or­dered T & M Con­struc­tions pay the $ 60,000 fine in 18 months and $ 1587 in costs. No con­vic­tion was recorded against the com­pany.

Un­der the Work­place Health and Safety Act, the max­i­mum penalty for the breach is $ 1.5 mil­lion.

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