WorkSafe WA successful in multiple prosecutions

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Friday, 4 December, 2020 - 10:00
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Western Australia

WorkSafe WA has successfully prosecuted two companies and two individuals for breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Regulations.

Warren Piggott from Screenwest Pty Ltd, Quentin Healy and Hanssen Pty Ltd were recently successfully prosecuted by the regulator.

In Joondalup Magistrates Court a machinery operator at a recycling facility was fined $7500 (and ordered to pay $1000 in costs) for failing to take reasonable care during an incident in which a diesel mechanic was seriously injured.

In March 2019, Warren Piggott was working for Splendid Enterprises Pty Ltd – trading as Soils Aint Soils – at a recycling facility in Neerabup when the excavator he was operating moved, causing a worker who was gas-cutting steel plates to fall, leaving him with several serious injuries.

Also in Albany Magistrates Court an earthworks business and its director were fined a total of $44,000 (and ordered to pay $5000 in costs) for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment after the director reversed a skid steer loader into a confined area, striking a worker and causing serious leg injuries in May 2017.

Screenwest was fined $33,000 (and ordered to pay $3500 in costs), while Quentin Healy was fined $11,000 (and ordered to pay $1500 in costs).

In the Perth Magistrates Court, the building company that engaged a labour-hire backpacker who died as the result of a fall in 2016 was fined $60,000 (and ordered to pay $5000 in costs) for failing to apply mesh to holes or openings in floors at an apartment building site in Perth.

The court found that Hanssen Pty Ltd repeatedly breached the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations by failing to install mesh in the openings in floors during the construction of the Concerto Apartments building in Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

The prosecutions should serve as a reminder that WorkSafe is prepared to take action against individuals or entities who do not do their part to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for employees, said WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.

“The two businesses prosecuted recently failed in their duty of care to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and the individuals prosecuted also did not comply with their duties under workplace safety laws.

“The cases demonstrate that the courts have recognised the importance of both businesses and individuals meeting their obligations.

“In the case of Hanssen Pty Ltd the circumstances of the death of the backpacker were investigated, and while no charges were laid, these other breaches were identified during the course of the investigation.

“The company believed it had a guarding method better than mesh, but Magistrate Hills-Wright commented that the law needed to discourage employers from taking matters into their own hands.

“The other charges related to items of mobile plant striking workers, unfortunately too common an occurrence in WA workplaces and one of WorkSafe’s operational priority areas.

“Although these cases are quite different, the consistent message is that failing to keep workplaces safe can result in costly prosecution action in addition to the physical and mental impacts of a serious injury,” he said.