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Prosecution Details

Defendant K & S Power Solutions Pty Ltd (ACN 149 771 764)
Regulation 3.1
Offence Date 27 February 2012
Description of Breach(es)

The Accused, being a person who at a workplace is a person having control of a workplace or a person having control of access to the workplace, failed as far as practicable to:

  • a) Identify each hazard to which a person at the workplace is likely to be exposed;
  • b) Assess the risk of injury or harm to a person resulting from each hazard' and
  • c) Consider the means by which the risk may be reduced;

Contrary to regulation 3.1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996

Background Details

The Accused operates a business engaged in electrical installations, with the majority of the work being the installation of solar panels.

The Accused employs casual employees, sub-contractors and labour hire to carry out the solar panel installation work.

Most of the solar panel installation work performed by the Accused is allocated to it by a company who supplies solar panels (solar panel company).

The solar panel company sells and supplies solar panels to its customers and then engages electrical contractors, such as the Accused, to install their product.

On 27 January 2012, the solar panel company provided a quote to the proprietor of 455 Martin Road, Mundaring for the installation of 10 solar panels to a single storey outbuilding located at the rear of a residence.

The Accused was engaged by the solar panel company to install the solar panels at the Mundaring property.

On the morning of 27 February 2012, the following persons were involved in the installation of the solar panels at the Mundaring property:

(a) a director of the Accused, who is a qualified electrician (electrician);

(b) an employee of the Accused at the relevant time; and was a casual trade assistant (trade assistant);

(c) an apprentice electrician (the apprentice) who worked for the Accused under a labour hire arrangement whereby the Accused was the apprentice electrician's host employer.

The apprentice had been working under a labour hire arrangement for approximately 15 months. He had been working as an apprentice for the Accused for approximately 8 months.

At 7.00am on 27 February 2012 the electrician, trade assistant and the apprentice met at the offices of the Accused.  Together, they travelled to the solar panel company depot to collect the solar panels and associated equipment, and then onto the Mundaring property.

On arrival at the Mundaring property, the electrician met with the client while the trade assistant and the apprentice set up a work area next to the outbuilding.

The height of the outbuilding to the gutter line of the roof was approximately 2.5 metres.

The height of the ridge line of the roof was 3.8 metres.

The roof of the outbuilding was sheeted with galvanised tin sheets and polycarbonate sheets (commonly referred to as skylights).

The installation process for installing solar panels involves the following steps:

a) two sets of rails are fixed to brackets on top of the existing roof sheets - the rails run parallel to one another approximately 1.1 metres apart;

b) the solar panels are placed and fixed on top of the rails; and

c) a qualified electrician then carries out the electrical installation of the panels.

The electrician shifted the panels and rails from the van to the work area next to the outbuilding and remained at ground level at all times. 

The apprentice erected the ladder in order to allow access to the roof and took the tools to the work area.

Before starting work, the electrician got up on to the roof and had a "look around" doing a "general JHA" as part of an informal risk assessment exercise. 

It appeared to the electrician that the roof was sheeted entirely with galvanised tin.  He failed to identify that one part of the roof comprised polycarbonate sheeting.

The electrician told the apprentice to be careful when working up on the roof but did not advise him of any particular hazards.

The apprentice assumed, like the electrician, that the roof was sheeted entirely with galvanised tin.

Given the heights of the edge of the roof and the location of their work, the electrician and the apprentice were not required to wear safety harnesses or put in place a fall injury prevention system.

The electrician and the apprentice commenced work on the roof, firstly fixing the brackets into position and then attaching the rails to the brackets.

At approximately 10:00am, the apprentice walked up towards the ridge of the roof.  He turned to look back at where the electrician was working, stepped backwards over the ridge of the roof onto a polycarbonate sheet.

The polycarbonate sheet that the apprentice stepped on gave way and he fell approximately 3.8 metres to the ground.

As a result of the fall, the apprentice was knocked unconscious.  He suffered fractures to the skull and clavicle.  He then required emergency surgery at Royal Perth Hospital to treat his injuries.

The risk of suffering an injury or harm to health as a result of falling through a skylight is a hazard (Hazard).

In the course of his work, the apprentice was exposed to the Hazard.

It is common knowledge in the building and roofing industry that skylights are non-trafficable.

The Accused had a generic Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for solar panel installation but it did not include any requirement to check the integrity or composition of the roof surface.

In any case, the electrician, the apprentice and the trade assistant did not have a copy of the Accused's JHA with them on 27 February 2012 as it was usually only referred to by the Accused's employees in relation to jobs involving two-storey buildings.

It was practicable for the Accused to have:

  • a) identified the Hazard;
  • b) assess the risk arising from the Hazard; and
  • c) consider the means by which the risk may be reduced.

The Accused failed to take those practicable steps.




Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted.

Conviction Date 28 Apr 2014
Court Magsitrates Court of Western Australia - Midland
Fine $500.00
Costs $748.00
Charge Number MI3778/2014