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Prosecution Details

Defendant Terrence Ronald Brown
Section 55(1) and 55(1b)
Offence Date 20 September 2010
Description of Breach(es)

Being the director of body corporate guilty of an offence under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, (Act) where that offence occurred with the consent of the director, or was attributable to any neglect on the part of the director, contrary to section 55(1) of the Act.

Background Details

In August 2010, The Mallon Company Pty Ltd (ACN 087 995 248; Mallon) was engaged to replace the roofing of the commercial premises located at 7 Ruse Street, Osborne Park (Premises).

At the rear of the Premises was a main building accommodating a workshop area (Workshop). The Workshop had a sloped saw-tooth roof constructed of asbestos sheeting.

Extending approximately 6 metres in front of the Workshop was a covered area containing storage space and also providing access to the Workshop (Frontage). The Frontage had a flat roof constructed mainly of tin sheeting, with brittle fibreglass sheeting at intervals acting as ‘skylights' (Skylights).

The roofing of the Workshop and Frontage, and particularly the Skylights, had been damaged in the intense storm that infamously passed through the Perth area on 22 March 2010. The insurer of the Premises consequently engaged Mallon to replace the roofing, including the Skylights (Re-roofing Work).

Mallon is a corporation that carries on the business of contracting for roofing work, including re-roofing, under the trading name Frontline Roofing.

Mallon does not have any employees and does not engage in any actual roofing work itself. It obtains contracts and then engages subcontractors to perform the physical work. The subcontractors order any required materials, which are paid for and supplied by Mallon. Subcontractors supply their own workers and tools.

Mallon engaged Debri Pty Ltd (ACN 009 068 866; Debri) to perform the Re-roofing Work. Debri is a corporation that carries on the business of roofing work generally, including roof plumbing and re-roofing, under the trading name R & K Installations.

Mallon further engaged Terry's Crane Hire Pty Ltd (ACN 120 000 268; Terry's) to provide a crane to land the new roofing and lift down the removed roofing as part of the Re-roofing Work. Terry's is a corporation that carries on the business of the hiring out of small cranes.

Terry's has two directors: Terry Brown and his wife. Mr Brown is experienced in all aspects of crane work and is also an employee and the general manager of Terry's, in which capacity he inspects sites at which Terry's is to perform work, when requested to do so by clients or employees/subcontractors, and/or supervises more complex work: i.e., he is a working director.

Events of 20 September 2010

Debri commenced the Re-roofing Work on 20 September 2010. Mallon was aware of this.

Several employees of Debri including Debri's working director (Debri Employees) were at the premises on 20 September 2010.

Access to the roof of the Workshop was via the roof of the Frontage. Access to the roof of the Frontage was via a ladder supplied by Debri.

On the morning of 20 September 2010, before commencing work, the Debri Employees viewed the Premises from the ground and the roof and formulated, discussed and signed off on a job hazard assessment (JHA, also known as a ‘job safety analysis', or JSA) for the Re-roofing Work, which identified the hazard presented by the damaged and brittle Skylights (Debri JSA).

The written Debri JSA included the following comments in relation to ‘heights; EWP' and ‘access and egress' respectively:

  • Damaged and rusty sheets to roof access.
  • Rusty sheets and damaged polycarbonate sheeting to access roof, Be aware!

In discussing the Debri JSA, the Debri Employees decided to address these identified hazards by walking straight ahead across the Frontage roof, directly from the ladder to the Workshop roof, avoiding the Skylights.

The Debri Employees commenced work by removing asbestos sheeting from the rear roof of the Workshop. This sheeting was moved to the front roof of the Workshop and wrapped in plastic to form ‘packs'.

The Debri Employees had formed two asbestos packs when the crane, provided by Terry's, arrived at the Premises, along with 19 year old dogger and a crane operator.  The dogger was an independent contractor engaged by Terry's, and the crane operator was a direct employee of Terry's.

The dogger held a licence to perform dogging work, a class of high risk work under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (Regulations). Dogging work includes the application of slinging techniques for the purposes of lifting a load, and directing a crane operator (via hand signals) in the movement of a load when the load is out of view of the operators. It is an offence to perform dogging work without the relevant high risk work licence. The dogger also held the following qualifications: EUPOPS201A - Comply with Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Procedures; and a Construction Induction Licence, both of which contain elements of safety training on work sites.

Debri's working director spoke to the crane operator to arrange for the two asbestos ‘packs' to be lowered from the front roof of the Workshop to the skip bin at the front of the Premises.

The Debri Employees slung the first pack and the dogger stood atop the ladder to instruct them and to guide the pack down to the skip bin. Debri's working director and another of the Debri Employees noticed that the dogger was not wearing an asbestos mask and told him he could get one from Debri's trailer at the front of the Premises. The dogger did so and then returned.

The dogger guided down the two asbestos packs and a further two packs that the Debri employees had by then prepared. He then slung a pack of new metal sheets that were to be installed in place of the removed asbestos.

The dogger ascended to the Frontage roof and guided the crane to land the new sheets on top of the purlins on the rear roof of the Workshop. He then slung a further pack of metal sheets, which Debri's working director instructed him to land beside the wall at the end of the front roof of the Workshop. Debri removed the existing asbestos sheeting in that area so that Mr Coote could do so.

The dogger was not instructed to come onto the Premises roof by anyone. However, he accessed the roof in order to guide the crane operator so as to land the new pack.

At one point, Debri's working director and another of the Debri Employees warned the dogger to be aware of the rusty sheets and Skylights on the Frontage roof.

The dogger walked across the Frontage roof to reach the area beside the wall in order to land the new pack. In doing so, he walked across the skylight.  Debri's working director and another of the Debri Employees saw him doing so and again warned him to keep off that skylight.

The dogger landed the new pack and attempted to remove the slings. He had some difficulty doing so and at one point stepped onto the far end of the skylight.

That area of the skylight collapsed below the dogger, who fell to the cement floor approximately 3.3 metres below.

The dogger struck his head and neck on the cement floor. He suffered the following serious injuries as a result.

1.            Traumatic acute subarachnoid and subdural haemorrhages

2.             Haemorrhagic cranial contusions

3.             Cranial fractures

4.             Compression fractures of thoracic vertebrae

5.            Multiple small focal areas of pulmonary contusion / haemorrhage

The dogger underwent bifrontal decompressive craniectomy and required massive transfusion of blood products to control associated bleeding. He later underwent bifrontal cranioplasty.

Debri's systems for the Re-roofing Work

As at 20 September 2010, there was existing safety mesh installed below the roof of the Workshop.  Safety mesh provides protection against falls through roofs.

However, as at 20 September 2010, there was no safety mesh installed below the roof of the Frontage (including the Skylights).

Mallon and Debri had not discussed the installation of safety mesh as part of the Re-roofing Work. Debri had planned to install safety mesh beneath the Frontage roof after all the asbestos sheets had been removed from the Workshop roof. Debri had arranged for the provision of this mesh, but at the time of the dogger's fall the mesh was not on the Premises.

Debri had also planned to replace the Skylights after all the asbestos sheets had been removed from the Workshop roof. The polycarbonate sheeting to be used for this purpose had been ordered by Debri but only arrived at the Premises on 20 September 2010 after the dogger's fall. The new metal roof sheeting for the Workshop roof and for the other parts of the Frontage roof was on the Premises at the time of the fall.

By 21 September 2010, the day after the dogger's fall, Debri had installed safety mesh under the Frontage roof and had replaced the Skylights with the new polycarbonate sheeting.

Debri's subsequent invoice to Mallon for the Re-roofing Work indicated the sum of $100.00 for the supply of the safety mesh.

Prior to the dogger's fall, some of the Debri Employees had been working on the sloped Workshop roof within 2 metres of the skylight through which the dogger ultimately fell.

Arrangements between Debri and Terry's

There was no contract of any kind between Debri and Terry's for the provision of the crane for the Re-roofing Work. Debri required the provision of a crane to remove and land the roof sheeting, and Mallon had accordingly engaged Terry's.

Debri and its working director were aware that the crane would be accompanied by a dogger to sling loads and guide the crane, and that the dogger would have to work from the roof of the Premises, and access the Frontage roof, to do so. None of the Debri Employees was a licensed dogger.

Debri did not discuss safety issues with Terry's, the dogger or the crane operator, other than insofar as some of the Debri Employees warned the dogger to stay away from the Skylights on the Frontage Roof. Debri did not make Terry's, the dogger or the crane operator aware of the Debri JSA. Debri did not supervise the dogger while he was on the roof of the Premises.

Arrangements between Mallon and Terry's

Mallon had engaged Terry's on previous occasions, including for the landing of material onto, and the removal of material from, roofs.

There was no written contract between Mallon and Terry's for the provision of the crane for the Re-roofing Work. Mallon's director engaged Terry's orally.

Mallon's director knew that Terry's would provide a dogger to sling loads and guide the crane, and that the dogger would likely have to work from the roof of the Premises to do so.

Neither Mallon nor Terry's raised with the other any particular safety issues involved in the Re-roofing Work.

Relationship between Terry's and the dogger

As noted, the dogger was an independent contractor engaged by Terry's. The practice of Terry's was for crane operators to be directly employed and for doggers to be engaged as necessary.

The doggers were provided with equipment such as slings and chains by Terry's, and had access to helmets and harnesses if they required.

Mr Brown and Terry's were aware of the general nature of the Re-roofing Work, although Mr Brown did not personally know that the dogger had been sent as the dogger on that job. The allocation of doggers was determined by the controller for Terry's.  Terry's would provide a dogger to work with a crane unless the client indicated that it had a licensed dogger available.

Neither Mr Brown nor Terry's was aware that the roofing of the Premises included the Skylights. Although Mr Brown sometimes inspected sites at which Terry's was to perform work and/or supervised difficult work, no representative of Terry's had inspected the Premises prior to 20 September 2010.

Doggers and crane operators sent to jobs by Terry's often did not know the precise nature of the work until they arrived on site.

Mr Brown stated in a voluntary record of interview that he expected the crane drivers employed by Terry's to discuss safety issues with doggers on site if necessary. However, this was not an enforced practice of Terry's. On 20 September 2011 the crane operator and the dogger did not discuss safety issues involved in the Re-roofing Work.

Following the dogger's accident (in November 2010), Terry's formally notified its doggers and crane operators that a site-specific hazard and risk assessment was to be conducted by them prior to commencing any job, and, in the case of work requiring roof access, that they were to request the JSA prepared by the roof workers at the site.

As at 20 September 2010, Terry's had not provided the dogger with instructions or training in working at heights, or ensured that the dogger had otherwise received such instruction or training. Terry's had ensured, when engaging the dogger, that he had the following qualifications: EUPOPS201A - Comply with Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Procedures; and a Construction Induction Licence, both of which contain elements of safety training on work sites.

Following the dogger's accident, Terry's has provided instruction to its doggers and crane operators as to the fall hazard presented by skylights and has paid for its contracted doggers to undergo training in working at heights.

Information available prior to 20 September 2010

Since 2004 the Code of practice: Prevention of falls at workplaces (COP) has been approved pursuant to section 57 of the Act. The COP provides practical guidance on the prevention of falls on workplaces for duty-holders under the Act, particularly (for present purposes) in respect of:

  1. the requirement for supervision by a competent person, especially if the people being supervised are unfamiliar with the working environment (p 12);
  2. the installation of a fall injury prevention system where people are required to work in areas where there is a risk of falling (p 16);
  3. the use of safety mesh (p 33-6); and
  4. the hazards of brittle or fragile roofing, specifically including skylights, and the requirements to address those hazards, including through training and supervision (pp 56-7).

Regulation 3.57 of the Regulations also provides direction on addressing the hazards posed by brittle or fragile roofing such as the Skylights.

Practicable measures that could have been taken as at 20 September 2010

As at 20 September 2010, it was reasonably practicable for Terry's to have:

1. ensured, required and/or confirmed that any person who, in carrying out work for Terry's, might be required to access a roof:

(a) had been adequately trained in and/or informed of the various risks associated with working from heights (including in the hazards posed by brittle or fragile roofing such as the Skylights); and/or

(b) was adequately supervised in carrying out such work (by Terry's or otherwise); and/or

 2. required Mallon and/or Debri to adequately inform Terry's of any hazard specific to the Re-roofing Work, and to which a person carrying out work for Terry's might be exposed (relevantly, the existence and state of the Skylights); and/or

 3. ensured, required and/or confirmed that any person performing any part of the Re-roofing Work for Terry's was, before commencing that work, inducted via an appropriate JSA, or otherwise adequately informed (by Terry's or otherwise) of:

(a) any specific hazard involved in the Re-roofing Work, including the existence and state of the Skylights; and/or

(b) the consequent risk of a person falling through the Skylights;

Taking any or all of these measures would have mitigated the risk of the dogger falling through the Skylight, and consequently suffering his injuries, on 20 September 2010.

Mr Brown failed to ensure that Terry's took any or all of these measures, despite personally knowing:

  1. of the general nature of the Re-roofing Work;
  2. that Terry's may have provided a dogger to sling loads and guide the crane; and
  3. that the dogger may have considered that there was a need to work from the roof of the Premises to do so.

The failure by Terry's to take any or all of the above measures was consequently attributable to neglect on the part of, or occurred with the consent of, Mr Brown.




Outcome Summary

Convicted on guilty plea on 10 May 2013.

The Magistrate fined the Accused $20,000 after a 25% discount for guilty plea and other mitigating factors on 7 June 2013.

Conviction Date 10 May 2013
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Fine $20,000.00
Costs Imposed on Company
Charge Number PE8104/13