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Prosecution Details

Defendant Cossack Pearls Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Thursday, 19 October 2000
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed so far as was practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards; contrary to Sections 19(1) and 19(6) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The deceased was employed as a pearl diver on a pearl farm owned by the Defendant located approximately 123km west of Dampier.

On the afternoon of 19 October 2000 three divers employed by the defendant were taken to an area of the defendant's pearl farm where two of the divers were instructed to carry out labouring tasks involving picking up and carrying pearl panels to the third diver who was to clip them to panels on the fence line. One of the divers, who had commenced employment with the defendant the previous day and dived for the defendant for the first time that morning, did not descend with the other two divers because he encountered some difficulty with his regulator. Later one of the other two divers spotted him working on two occasions. However, when the two divers returned to the surface at the end of the dive the new diver did not surface. The diver was later found lying a few metres off the ocean bottom. He was unable to be resuscitated. A post mortem examination revealed that the diver suffered from congenital brain abnormalities which predisposed him to having a seizure.

The defendant was charged in relation to the incident for failing to ascertain and verify the deceased's diving experience, for permitting him to engage in diving tasks without adequate supervision and for failing to instruct workers as to their responsibilities and as to appropriate response in an emergency. Investigation revealed that the deceased had only obtained his open water Scuba diving qualification on 27 July 2000. While the defendant considered one of the two other divers to be the supervising diver and expected that he would remain in close proximity with the deceased, instructions in relation to those matters were inadequate. When the other two divers realised that the deceased had not returned to the surface at the end of the dive they signalled for him to return to the surface three times before investigating the reason for his failure to surface.

The Defendant pleaded guilty to the charge.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 12 Feb 2004
Court Perth Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $10,000
Costs Nil
Charge Number BM1752/02