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Prosecution Details

Defendant Maurice Charles Hofmeyer
Section 20(1)(b)
Regulation Not applicable
Offence Date Wednesday, 12 January 2000
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee, failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety of other persons through omissions at work and thereby caused the death.

Background Details

The defendant was a qualified crane driver engaged, through a contractural arrangement with his employer, to undertake some work at a construction site in Cloverdale, on 21 December 1999 and 12 January 2000.

On 12 January 2000, one of the defendant's tasks was to erect a concrete panel. A rigger and another person attached lifting chains and wire slings to the panel. There was light rain when the panel was hooked up. The defendant did not carry out an inspection of the site prior to lifting the panel and he was not aware of its intended final position. The defendant used the crane to lift the panel by the slings and to suspend it. The rigger and two other persons attempted to rotate the panel because it was facing the wrong way. The rigger used hand signals to direct the crane driver. The rigger was holding the panel when the lifting chains apparently came into contact with or close proximity to overhead power lines. The rigger received an electric shock and died as a result. Another person suffered burns to his hand and foot.

The matter was heard before Magistrate Black SM. The magistrate found that the defendant could have, and ought to have, initially visually checked where the panel was to be placed and ought to have remained vigilant while operating the crane as to any hazard, including overhead power lines. Mr Black said that the fact that "the defendant relied upon other persons who themselves may have been less than reasonably vigilant does not abrogate the responsibility that the defendant had to take reasonable care at all times to avoid the situation the statute covers".

The defendant pleaded not guilty. While the magistrate found that the defendant had failed to take reasonable care (section 21(1)(b)), he did not accept that it had been proved that the failure caused the death of the rigger as alleged by the prosecution. This was relevant to sentencing, the magistrate sentencing the defendant under section 21(4) rather than section 21(5) as specified in the charge.

Outcome Summary convicted
Conviction Date 19 Dec 2001
Court Perth Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $1,000
Costs $3,200
Charge Number 34116/01