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Prosecution Details

Defendant Sean Peter Sellin
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Saturday, 13 November 2004
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed, so far as is practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment in which his employees were not exposed to hazards and thereby contravened sections 19(1) and 19(6) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

At all relevant times the material facts were as set out below.

The accused operated a business constructing home patios and pergolas. In 2003 the accused had agreed with Australasian Lubrication Manufacturing Pty Ltd (ALMC) to replace the roofs of two warehouses at ALMC's premises in Swan Street, North Fremantle.

The smaller of the two warehouses at ALMC's Fremantle site was known as the filling area warehouse and was about: 21 metres long, 31.5 metres wide, 9 metres in height when measured from the concrete floor of the warehouse to the apex of the roof, and 16.4 metres in width from the apex to the gutter line. The pitch of the roof was about 15 degrees.

There was no safety wire or any other material between the existing roof sheets on the filling area warehouse and the steel roof purlins to which they were screwed.

New safety wire and insulation was to be placed between the new roof sheets and the steel roof purlins to which the new roof sheets would be screwed.

At about 7.30 am on 13 November 2004 the accused and an employee began work on the western side of the roof of the filling area warehouse. The accused and his employee were removing the screws from the existing roof sheets. By this date the employee had worked for the accused for three days at the ALMC site.

Sometime prior to 8.00 am that morning another employee of the accused carried equipment up to the eastern side of the roof of the filling area warehouse. While standing on the eastern side of the roof this employee asked the accused why he was not leaving some screws in the roof sheets that he could see them walking around upon, because if they took all of the screws out the sheets would slide down the roof towards the gutter. The accused pointed to where the roof sheets lapped over each other horizontally on the western side of the roof and said that they had left the row of screws in that area of the roof. This employee then left the roof and did not return to it. The accused and the other employee remained on the roof and continued to work.

By about 8.00 am that morning most of the screws in the southern end of the western side of the roof had been removed from the sheets, and both the accused and the employee were walking around on those unscrewed sheets. One of the roof sheets that had been entirely unscrewed from the purlins underneath it slid down the roof towards the gutter, and moved off the ridge purlin that had been underneath it.

The employee stood on that roof sheet and it bent down towards the floor of the warehouse thereby creating an opening in the roof. The employee fell through the opening about 9 metres to the concrete floor of the warehouse below. The impact of hitting the concrete caused him to suffer fatal injuries from which he died at Fremantle Hospital later that morning.

It was practicable and usual practice in the roofing industry to always leave some screws in the sheets, and only remove those screws whilst standing on another sheet in which some screws remained. The purpose of this practice is to prevent a fall through the roof.

Outcome Summary Plead Guilty
Conviction Date 01 Dec 2008
Court Fremantle
Fine $15,000.00
Costs $6,827.27
Charge Number FR5822/07