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Prosecution Details

Defendant John De Bono
Section 22(1)(a) and 22(5)
Offence Date Monday, 28 October 2002
Description of Breach(es)

Being a person having control of a workplace, namely where persons who were not his employees worked, failed to take such measures as were practicable to ensure that the workplace was such that persons who were at the workplace were not exposed to hazards and by that failure caused serious harm to a person.

Background Details

The Defendant owned and later resided in premises at the address concerned. In 2001 the defendant obtained a building licence from the City of Mandurah in relation to the construction of the premises in which he later resided. The Defendant was an "owner-builder".

During the construction of the premises the Defendant engaged Watervale Investments Pty Ltd t/a Watervale Developments to install plaster walls and ceilings on the first floor and install plaster ceilings on the ground floor of the premises. In approximately July 2002 Watervale Investments Pty Ltd performed the required work on the ground floor of the premises.

The Defendant made arrangements with Watervale for Watervale workers to attend the house on 28 October 2002 and attend to work on the first floor. At that time the house was at the lock-up stage. At that time the premises did not have any stairwell in place between the ground floor and the first floor and consequently there was a void between the ground floor and first floor. The distance between the floor of the first floor and the concrete floor below was approximately 3m. The void was approximately 2m x 2m in size. There was no guarding (edge-protection) of the void from the first floor and the void was not in any way obstructed to prevent persons standing on the first floor from falling through the void.

On 28 October 2002 the Defendant went to the premises on the way to work in order to unlock the front door and allow employees of Watervale Investments Pty Ltd to gain access to the premises.

In the course of working on the first floor ceiling one of the Watervale workers was walking sideways and looking up with a scraper in his hand. He stood with his foot on the edge of the void, rolled his ankle and fell through the void.

The worker fell approximately 3 metres before striking his head and losing consciousness. After receiving emergency surgery he spent some time in intensive care and then several months in the Shenton Park rehabilitation hospital before returning home. He has suffered a severe left sided weakness as a consequence of the head injury and although he has managed to walk again he has been left with permanent disability.

There were discussions between the Defendant and a representative of Watervale concerning safety matters. However there was no evidence of any discussion concerning the void or the taking of measures to ensure the void did not expose the Watervale workers to the risk of injury.

The evidence establishes that the Defendant took no measures to ensure that the unguarded void did not expose workers at the workplace to a risk of injury.

It was practicable for the defendant to have:

provided or ensured that Watervale Investments Pty Ltd had provided a means of guarding or obstructing the void to remove the fall hazard created by the void.

Outcome Summary Found Guilty
Conviction Date 23 Apr 2007
Court Fremantle
Fine $10,000
Costs $3,000
Charge Number 3747/04