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TWO NSW WHS Contractor Decisions – One Excellent and One not so much

Sue’s takes us through not one but two WHS contractor decisions

An Excellent Decision

In the NSW District Court, a contractor has been found guilty and fined $600K for injuries sustained when labour hire workers were lifted to height in an excavator bucket.

Apex Building Systems (Principal Contractor) hired an independent contractor, Greater Civil, to undertake demolition work. Labour hire workers to assist Greater Civil were supplied by Astute Earthworks.

Greater Civil directed and supervised the workers and supplied the machinery and an excavator. Greater Civil directed that workers be raised in the excavator bucket when accessing work areas at height for demolition. In addition, the machinery was faulty. As a result, the labour hire workers fell from the bucket of the excavator and were seriously injured

Rightly the specialist contractor, Greater Civil, who had management and control of the operation of the excavator, was prosecuted and held responsible for the incident and for failing to manage risks that were clearly under their management and control.

Read the full report here.


Not Such an Excellent Decision

The contractor in the Arkwood matter has been fined a paltry $15 k for failing to ensure (and in fact proactively encouraging) an unqualified truck driver to operate a crane that struck overhead powerlines and seriously injured two workers

In addition, the contractor failed to comply with his own safe work method statement which emphasised the risk of powerlines and the need for a spotter.

His honour held that “Mr Bennett should not have permitted [the employee] to operate the crane, because [the employee] was unlicensed and inexperienced. Arkwood (the PC) should not have been involved in cranage operations when Arkwood had not done a risk assessment or used a spotter to check that the crane was not approaching too close to the obvious overhead powerlines,”

So the Council (not on site and who had no management or control of the operations) entered into a $600K enforceable undertaking. the Principal Contractor, Arkwood who did not instruct its workers to be involved in the operation of the crane and were entitled to rely on the contractor to undertake their work without oversight by them were fine $150K and the actual offender was fine $15k.


Read the full report here.