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January 2020

Apprentice injury costs company $24,000

Apprentice injury costs company $24,000

WorkSafe Victoria v Ballarat Construction Management Pty Ltd (June 2018)

Facts

Ballarat Construction Management Pty Ltd (the Company) was engaged as the project manager of a demolition, construction and renovation of a school in Ballarat, Victoria.

The Company subcontracted bricklaying work part way through the works.

As a result of the work that had already been undergone, the worksite contained several hazards including partially demolished walls and loose bricks. The Company did not provide sufficient induction to the subcontractor workers of the bricklaying company and, on 24 October 2016, an apprentice of the bricklaying company was struck on the head by a brick that had fallen from a partially demolished wall.

The Company also failed to instruct and ensure the apprentice was wearing a hard hat. The apprentice suffered a concussion.

Judgment

The Company pleaded guilty to the following breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004: Section 21(1): The duty to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health; and Section 21(2)(e): The duty to provide such information, instruction, training or supervision to employees of the employer as is necessary to enable those persons to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Lessons

This case demonstrates the importance of providing thorough inductions to all workers on site and ensuring necessary PPE is worn at all times. While these are always necessary for an employer, particular care and diligence should be demonstrated where inexperienced workers, such as an apprentice, are involved.

The Ballarat Magistrates Court ordered the Company to pay a fine of $20,000 and WorkSafe Victoria’s costs of $4,000. No conviction was recorded.

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