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Prosecution Details

Defendant Cowara Contractors Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Wednesday, 8 May 2002
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 Accused was engaged to construct roads, drainage and servicing at Yallingup. On 8 May 2002 employees of the Accused were engaged in directing trucks to off load limestone road base. The limestone was then being spread by a grader over sub-base.

One of the employees directing the trucks noticed a stick in the sub-base and when he went to remove it he was struck by a reversing grader. Prior to attempting to remove the stick the employee had looked to see where the grader was and he saw it 40-50 metres driving away from him. The grader driver says that he started reversing and he believed that after he had moved about 10 metres he ran into the employee.

The employee did not hear or see the grader approaching because it was noisy and windy and he was looking in the other direction. The driver of the grader did not see him. It was necessary for the employee to remove the stick from the sub-base because if left in the stick would eventually rot and create a indentation in the finished road.
The grader was not fitted with reversing beepers or active rotating lights. Reversing beepers are designed to be able to be heard above the usual sort of noise found on construction sites.

The injured person and other employees of the Accused working in the vicinity of machinery were not wearing reflective vests at the time of the accident, although they had been issued vests by the accused. While there were hand held radios on site and radios in each of the vehicles, there was no radio communication between the employee operating the grader and employees working on the ground at the time of the accident. There was no spotter used. There were no exclusion zones, whereby people are excluded or not permitted within a specified distance of mobile plant unless that person is permitted to be inside the exclusion zone.

The measures just outlined are all ones which would have made the working environment safer.

The accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 09 May 2006
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Busselton
Fine $12,000
Costs $728.45