Construction company fined for failing to notify regulator of incident
A labour hire company has been fined $4,500 in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court for breaching section 38 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act), which requires employers to notify Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) immediately after becoming aware of a notifiable incident at the workplace.
The legislation requires business operators to notify the regulator immediately following a work-related death, a serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident at the workplace.
The reporting options are attached.
The incident occurred on 22 July 2020 when a first-year apprentice boilermaker was instructed by his employer to heat plastic strips using an oxy-acetylene torch. When undertaking the task near the end of his shift, an uncontrolled explosion occurred.
The likely cause of the explosion was residual gas that had been left on the torch through previous use.
The apprentice suffered only minor injuries, including a nosebleed and ringing in his ears and was sent home for the rest of the day.
Due to the nature of the incident and the apprentice’s close proximity to the explosion, the incident was a notifiable incident that had to be reported to WHSQ.
Although the business conducted an internal investigation by its Workplace Health and Safety Officer, the business failed to report the incident to the regulator as required by the legislation.
On 11 November 2020, WHSQ received an anonymous complaint about the incident, leading to formal notification by the business on 23 November 2020.
In imposing a fine of $4,500 on the labour hire business, Magistrate Louise Shepherd noted the defendant’s timely guilty plea, their lack of previous safety breaches, and the genuine remorse shown towards the incident and the apprentice.
The Magistrate also accepted an affidavit by the business’ sole director detailing the safety policies the business had in place both at the time of the incident and, subsequently, after the incident.
No conviction was recorded.
For queries about safety, dealing with inspectors, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.