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Prosecution Details

Defendant Matthew Brian Allen
Section 20(1)(b) & 20A(3)
Offence Date 18 September 2013
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee, failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work.

Background Details

Matthew Brian Allen (Mr Allen) was employed by a scaffolding company as a licensed scaffolder. He has held a High Risk Work Licence issued by WorkSafe Western Australia in basic and advanced scaffolding since 2008.

Mr Allen's employer was contracted to complete scaffolding at a construction site in East Fremantle where a two storey house was being built.

On 18 September 2013, Mr Allen, on instructions from his employer, added a third lift to the steel framed and planked scaffolding which they had previously erected around the building for the upper floor brickwork. The third lift was provided to complete the external leaf of the upper floor cavity brick walls before being used by roof carpenters and roofers to pitch and sheet the roof.

Mr Allen had to stand and brace the scaffold frames of the third lift and lift the work platforms. To do this he had to use timber scaffold planks to plank over the corners and gaps between unbraced bays and tie the narrow frames together and then tie them to the main scaffold at both ends with tube and fittings to provide a continuous third lift of scaffolding around the building. He also needed to fit guardrails and mesh screens to prevent falls.

In the south west corner Mr Allen erected four bays of 750mm wide 3 plank scaffold frames on top of the 3.2m high concrete slab where it was not wide enough to accommodate the standard 1.2m wide five plank frames.

He fitted a one plank platform bracket to the outward face of each of the narrow frames in order to widen the platform. He then fitted guardrail posts, guardrails and mesh screens on the ends of the cantilevered platform brackets so there was a four plank wide platform.

On 23 September 2013 a bricklayer's labourer was working on the scaffold built by Mr Allen. He was injured when the scaffold collapsed under him. He fell and injured his shoulder striking it on the edge of the upper floor slab and grabbing hold of a brick wall to stop himself falling to the ground. His left shoulder was dislocated in the fall damaging the shoulder joint. He subsequently underwent surgery and rehabilitation with limited permanent disability.

The cause of the scaffold collapse was the narrow frames not being tied into the rest of the scaffold or the building, they were effectively freestanding. Further, the hop up brackets were fixed to the outside of the scaffold, contrary to accepted practice. The scaffold was loaded with bricks when it collapsed.

Mr Allen forgot to tie in the right hand end of the narrow frames and fitted the hop up brackets (also known as platform brackets) to the outside of the scaffold. He also failed to install a 6.5 metre scaffold tube to tie the narrow frames together and provide rigidity between the ties at the ends of the four bays of narrow frames as was the general practice of his employer.

AS/NZS 4576 Parts 1 to 6 is a gazetted Code of Practice. Clause 8.4 states that a scaffold must have the stability to prevent it from overturning which may be achieved by tying the scaffold to a supporting structure, guying to a supporting structure, increasing the dead load by securely attaching counter weights near the base or adding back-up bays to increase the base dimension.

By failing to tie off the left hand end of the scaffold the accused did not erect the scaffolding in a stable manner.

Mr Allen participated in a voluntary record of interview with WorkSafe inspectors and made full admissions in relation to not properly erecting the scaffold.

Mr Allen did not take reasonable care in erecting the scaffold and as a result adversely affected the health and safety of other persons.

 




Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted. The Magistrate fined the Accused $2,000.00 and ordered costs of $594.00

Conviction Date 21 Oct 2015
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Fine $2,000.00
Costs $594.00
Charge Number FR11363/2015