Construction site supervisor fined for injuring worker while operating plant
A construction company supervisor has been sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court following an incident in which he struck and injured an employee of a subcontractor while operating a skid steer track end loader to move spoil during renovation works at a residential property.
The supervisor was sentenced and fined for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act), having failed to comply with health and safety duty under section 28(b) of the Act.
The supervisor’s employer was the principal contractor on-site, and a subcontractor had been engaged to complete plumbing and civil works for the company.
On 23 October 2018, a delivery of material for the subcontractor was made to the site. In evidence presented before Judge Cooke, it was understood that principal contractor workers had not been advised in advance of the delivery occurring.
The supervisor was asked to remove spoil from the driveway to allow the delivery truck access to unload the materials. To undertake the task, he operated a piece of plant owned by his company called a ‘Posi Track’ (skid steer track end loader).
A subcontractor worker provided hand signals to the delivery driver from the driveway to assist in the unloading. During this task, he stepped behind the Posi Track.
After looking over his shoulder and sounding the reverse beeping system in the cabin, the supervisor reversed the plant and struck the worker’s right leg.
Immediately thereafter, the worker was transported to hospital and diagnosed with a fracture to his right tibia and fibula shaft, which required surgery.
The court found that the supervisor had failed to ensure his operation of the plant did not adversely affect the safety of others on the site as he:
Incorrectly operated the Posi Track while pedestrians were in the vicinity;
Failed to correctly look around while reversing the plant, particularly to cover ‘blind spots’;
Failed to engage a ‘spotter’ to provide guidance during the activity; and
Failed to establish an exclusion zone during the activity.
In imposing a fine of $3,000 on the supervisor, Judge Cooke noted the defendant’s guilty plea, the injuries suffered by the worker, and the need for general deterrence of similar behaviour.
No conviction was recorded.
For queries about safety, prosecutions, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 625 529, 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.