Worker receives suspended jail sentence for injuring apprentice
A Brisbane labourer who caused significant injuries to an apprentice after throwing a concrete block from height has received a four-month jail sentence, wholly suspended for an operational period of 4 months.
In evidence presented before Judge Glen Cash in the Brisbane District Court, the labourer pleaded not guilty to breaching the state’s Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 by engaging in conduct that exposed an individual to risk of serious death or injury and being reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.
The labourer worked for a company that had been subcontracted to undertake drilling work into a concrete wall to facilitate the installation of air conditioning units at Richlands East State School in south-western Brisbane.
On 30 June 2020, the labourer was operating an elevated work platform (EWP) to enable him to drill holes into the exterior upper area of a building.
After drilling the first hole, an apprentice at ground level repositioned the EWP adjacent to the next hole point. The labourer mounted the EWP and raised it to a height of approximately six metres from the ground. The drilling produced a piece of concrete waste weighing approximately six kilograms.
Several workers at ground level stated that the labourer engaged in ‘banter’ about the lack of hard hats being worn on site.
He then threw the concrete waste in the general vicinity of the workers below.
The concrete struck the apprentice in the head, knocking him to the ground. He sustained a significant head injury, including a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, a laceration, a black eye, damage to his sinus cavity, chipped teeth, and bruising to both his shoulder and collarbone.
In sentencing the labourer, Judge Cash found that although the conduct was brief in nature, it was both seriously risky and inherently dangerous. While the apprentice suffered serious injuries, it was fortunate that the damage to him was not more significant. He found that clearly, the labourer did not follow the safety precautions that he had read and understood.
In mitigation, Judge Cash accepted evidence that the labourer was a mature man, well-regarded within his community with support from friends, and had previously worked well and safely.
The labourer was sentenced to four months imprisonment, wholly suspended. A conviction was recorded.
For queries about safety, workplace investigations, or any 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.