Owner of concrete business fined following death on-site
An owner of a small concerting company has been fined $80,000 in the Gympie Magistrates Court for failing to discharge his primary duty, breaching s 19(2) of the Work Health and Safety Act (“the Act”), following an incident where a property owner suffered a fatality.
The owner had been engaged by a friend to undertake some small concreting work at the friend’s house involving the use of a bobcat.
The owner was using a bobcat to ensure the work area was level by reversing the plant with a levelling bar attached underneath.
The bobcat has a flashing light and alarm installed to alert persons nearby when reversing; however, in evidence given before Magistrate Bevan Hughes, the operator admitted that he was aware that the reversing alarm systems were not operational.
After a short exchange with his friend, he reversed the plant on the understanding that his friend had left the immediate area.
Consequently, he did not look behind and, in the same movement, ran over his friend with the bobcat. After being attended to by an ambulance on-site, the friend died in hospital later in the day as a result of the incident.
Magistrate Hughes found that the owner had failed to provide and maintain safe plant and systems of work. This included failing to:
- ensure the bobcat’s alarms were operational;
- install a flashing light on the bobcat;
- have a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for the task;
- establishing an exclusion zone.
Evidence was presented to the court that the cost of implementing the control measures was approximately $700.00.
Magistrate Hughes imposed a fine of $80,000 against a maximum penalty of $300,000 for the offences.
In determining the quantum of the penalty, Magistrate Hughes considered his early guilty plea, cooperation with the investigation, displaying considerable remorse and no prior history of offending.
The owner had also implemented appropriate safety measures after the incident.
No conviction was recorded.
For queries about safety, safe operation of plant, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 952 529, 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.