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Prosecution Details

Offender Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd A.C.N. 008 755 306

Charges

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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 MH2613/12 21 September 2010 30th July 2012 3A(3)(b)(i) $90,000.00 30th July 2012
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 failure caused serious arm to an employee, in contravention of section 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused is a company duly incorporated in the State of Western Australia and trades under the name Betta Electrical & Gas.  The Accused operated two Betta Electrical & Gas stores, one in Rockingham and one in Port Kennedy.  The Mandurah store (which has since closed) was located at 3 Kulin Way, Mandurah.

The Accused employed several employees to work at the Mandurah store.

The Mandurah store was comprised of a large warehouse within which a showroom had been constructed. The showroom was used to display fridges, washes, tv's and other electrical goods.

The showroom covered most of the warehouse floor area and was built to a height of approximately 2.75 metres which was around half the height of the warehouse. There was an area behind the showroom that was still within the warehouse, which was used by the Accused to store stock and boxes.

There was a void between the showroom ceiling and the warehouse roof.

Prior to 2007, a small area of the showroom ceiling immediately adjacent to the storeroom was used by the Accused to store empty boxes.

The empty boxes stored on the showroom ceiling were causing the showroom ceiling to bow.

In response, in or around 2007, the Accused built a shelf adjacent to the showroom ceiling, at the rear of the showroom and adjacent to the area where boxes were stored.

The shelf was built by an employee of the Accused who worked at the Port Kennedy store, and son of the managing director of the Accused.

The shelf was 9 metres across (length) and 75 millimetres deep (width).  It was constructed with 20 mm chipboard.

The edge of the shelf was 2.75 metres above ground level.

The shelf was not designed for people to access it or stand on it. It was purely for the storage of empty boxes.

On at least one occasion, each of two of the other employees had needed to and did get up on to the platform to retrieve empty boxes.

One of the employees believed that he was required to get up on to the shelf from time to time to retrieve boxes.

Access to the shelf varied between using a 1.8 metre A-frame ladder, standing on boxes of stock (such as fridges) or placing a two step ladder on top of boxes of stock.

On 21 September 2010, two employees went to the showroom looking for a washing machine box.

The male employee located the desired box on the shelf, positioned halfway on the shelf and halfway on to the showroom ceiling behind the platform.  He stood on top of a fridge box on the storeroom floor and endeavoured to reach the washing machine box, but was unable to do so.

The female employee was standing nearby on top of another fridge box. The male employee told her that he was unable to reach the washing machine box.

The female employee instructed the male employee to get a step ladder from behind the front counter in the showroom. He retrieved the step ladder and passed it up to her, as he did so he unfolded the step ladder.

The female employee placed the step ladder on top of a fridge on the storeroom floor, climbed up the step ladder and on to the shelf. From there, she began to pass empty boxes down to the male employee.

At a point when the female employee was out of sight to the male employee, he heard a shriek and a crashing sound like something had fallen through the showroom ceiling.

The female employee had fallen through the showroom ceiling and on to the showroom floor. She suffered fatal injuries as a result of the fall.

It was practicable for the Accused to have:

  • (a) not allowed its employees to stand on the shelf.

The Accused failed to take that practicable measure.




Outcome Summary

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted.

Court Magistrate's Court of Western Australia - Mandurah
Costs $1706.00

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