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January 2020

Poor safety practices result in $80,000 fine

Poor safety practices result in $80,000 fine

WorkSafe Victoria v Timber Imagineering Pty Ltd (2018)

Facts

Timber Imagineering Pty Ltd (the Company) employed a labourer who was injured after a timber stud wall he was erecting fell on him. Following the incident, the worker was provided with inadequate first aid.

The Company had failed to provide a safe work method statement, had no first aid officers and also failed to adequately design bracing measures to support the walls.

The Company had also failed to provide site-specific training for the workers.

Judgment

The Company was found to be in breach 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)(a): The duty to provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

The Frankston Magistrates’ Court convicted and fined the Company $75,000, plus costs of $4,725.

Lessons

This decision highlights the need for a competent person – such as an engineer – to design adequate controls to protect workers on the worksite from any danger involving support of structures. It also stresses the importance of preparing a safe work method statement for high-risk tasks, as well as providing specific training for a particular task before work is commenced.

This case is a good reminder of the need to have suitable first aid officers present at the workplace.

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