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