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January 2020

$10,000 fine for failing to replace lid on pit

Worksafe Victoria v Robert W Gill & Sons Pty Ltd (2015) (unreported*)

Facts

Robert W Gill & Sons Pty Ltd (Robert W Gill) is a Victorian plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor. In May 2014, a number of Robert W Gill’s plumbers were attending to a water leak at a Melbourne shopping arcade when they forgot to replace the lid on a pit they were working in. The pit was in a service corridor.

Later that day, a worker from another company accessed the service corridor and fell into the pit. The worker sustained back, knee, arm and rib injuries.

Judgment

The Melbourne Magistrates Court found that Robert W Gill breached section 23(1) of the Victorian OHS Act in failing to ensure the health and safety of the worker by neglecting to replace the lid on the pit. The Court fined Robert W Gill a total of $10,000, which included $3,317 in court costs.

Lessons

You will always be accountable for the health and safety risks that arise from conducting your business, including risks that your workers create, through inadvertence, to nonemployees, such as workers of other businesses and members of the public.

  • What Are Unreported Judgements?

Unreported judgements are recent court decisions that have not yet been published in a law report series, although they have usually been published on the court’s website. Although they are less persuasive than reported judgements, they may still be cited as a statement of the law on a particular subject.

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