12:30 pm, Tuesday 7 February, 2012
A small building company was given six years to pay a fine after one of its workers met an accident and became paraplegic. The incident happened in Keysborough in June 2010.
WorkSafe General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger said that the monthly payment to meet the $60,000 fine will serve as a constant reminder to the renovation firm on the importance of ensuring its workplace safety standards.
“For a small business this is a significant and not uncommon level of fine for a safety incident.
“Ensuring safety issues are understood and dealt with prevents devastating and life-changing incidents and reduces the risk of a business’ viability being undermined.”
Magistrate Leslie Fleming emphasized the importance of achieving general deterrence; however she said she would not impose a penalty that would threaten the ongoing viability of a small business.
The court heard that the company’s workers were replacing a burnt-out roof of a house in Keysborough when it began to rain. A company supervisor saw the victim climb onto the frame of the house immediately before he fell. Although he knew how risky it was, he did not ask the worker to come down because he thought that the worker was capable of standing there and lifting one truss. However, the 27-year-old victim lost his grip on the truss, slipped off the wet timber, ad fell four metres down a stairwell void.
The victim suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured wrist and serious head lacerations. He also endured three broken vertebrae, and is unlikely to walk again.
The Kilsyth-based company pleaded guilty to a violation laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company was convicted and was ordered to pay a fine of $60,000 and court costs amounting to $2,894.52.
Counsel for the company Carmen Currie said that her client had co-operated fully with the investigation conducted by WorkSafe and had taken steps to improve its OHS management.
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