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January 2020

$1 million fine for glazing company for failing to heed advice

$1 million fine for glazing company for failing to heed advice

SafeWork (NSW) v WGA Pty Ltd (2017)

Facts

WGA Pty Ltd contracted a 49-year-old man to work on installations at a residential apartment construction site. He was installing a piece of aluminium outside the window when the power generated by nearby power lines jumped to the metal. He suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body.

Judgment

Prior to this incident, WGA received advice from SafeWork NSW inspectors and Sydney Trains in regards to the risks in working near the powerlines. The Court found that WGA failed to comply with that advice and that WGA knew of the risk and failed to implement the appropriate measures. In particular, the company did not isolate the nearby powerlines. WGA exposed the worker to a risk of death or serious injury. It was fined $1 million.

Lessons

The penalty in this case was the largest fine imposed in NSW, although it should be noted that the company did not appear at the hearing. Nevertheless, the importance of this decision was that a company will face a significant penalty if it exposes someone to an obvious risk that they were aware of, and had received specific advice about.

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