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Prosecution Details

Defendant Tony's Auto Auctions Pty Ltd
Trading Name Tony's Auto Wreckers
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Offence Date Monday, 2 February 2004
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 and by that contravention caused serious harm to an employee; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused operated a car wrecking business from its premises in Midvale.

In about December 2003 the warehouse in which the Accused stored car parts was burnt down and it commenced rebuilding the warehouse. By mid January 2004 construction of the warehouse had progressed to the point where the beams and purlins, which would support the mezzanine floor, had been installed.

Two contractors, who the Accused had contracted to carry out minor work on the warehouse, began to lay steel mesh over the entire mezzanine area to form a floor. One corner of the mezzanine floor was to be covered in steel sheet instead of mesh. The work started on or about 30 January 2004.

The contractors used the steel mesh they were installing as a work platform. Where necessary they used a piece of plywood of about 2.4 metres by 1.2 metres, which they laid over the steel beams as a platform from which to work. The Accused supplied the plywood. During the morning of 2nd February 2004 one of the contractors asked an employee of the Accused, to help them move the last steel plate that was on the mezzanine floor.

The employee replied that he was busy and then walked away and stood talking to a director of the Accused. When another employee walked past where they stood talking, this employee was told to help the contractors.

This employee then walked back to the warehouse that was under construction and climbed the fixed steel stairway up to the mezzanine floor. The employee then walked across that part of the mezzanine floor on which the mesh had been laid and proceeded towards the far corner where the contractors were working. When he was very close to where the contractors were working he stepped into a hole in the floor where the steel plate had not been laid. He fell through the exposed hole and as his head passed through the beams and purlins, which surrounded the hole, he hit his chin and head on a steel purlin. He then fell a further 2.7 metres onto the concrete ground floor below. The hole in the floor, through which Mr Lamb fell, was about 0.5 metres by 3.6 metres in size.

The employee was taken to hospital. He now suffers a permanent injury to his back and neck which restricts his movement. The Accused did not take any reasonably practicable measures to ensure that its employees were not exposed to the risk of falling from the mezzanine floor. The Accused should have provided its employees with a fall injury prevention system, instructed them in the use of such a system and enforced the use of the system.

The accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 25 Aug 2005
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Midland
Fine $7,500
Costs $728.45
Charge Number 5687/05