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Prosecution Details

Offender Hyde Park Management Limited


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 Unknown at time of publication 24 November 2006 8th February 2010 3A(3)(b)(i) $60,000.00 8th February 2010
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as was practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards and by that failure caused its employee serious harm and contravened sections 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused owned and operated Cable Beach Club Resort at Cable Beach Road in Broome ("the Resort").

The injured person had been employed periodically by the accused as a landscape gardener at the Resort since approximately 2003/2004.

The Resort had extensive garden areas that required ongoing maintenance and care.  The garden areas included numerous coconut trees.

The pruning of the coconut trees was usually done by an employee operating a "Squirrel" which is a self-propelled elevating work platform ("the EWP").  It was owned by the accused.

To reduce the risk of a coconut falling on a guest, the accused's employees used the EWP for about 20 hours per year to prune the coconut trees.

The EWP had a triangular base with 2 extendable rear wheels (drive wheels) and 2 front wheels (castor wheels) and boom at the end of which was a basket, which could be raised to 6.5 metres high.  An employee would stand in the basket whilst pruning.

As well as manoevring the EWP the wheels stabilised its base so that it did not tip over while a person was in the elevated basket.  This was done by the drive wheels being extended outwards from each side of the EWP, and by a water ballast in all of the wheels.

The two drive wheels were designed to be retracted back in towards the sides of the EWP so the EWP could be driven along narrow pathways while the boom was down.

The EWP could not be safely used to hold a person in the basket up in the air unless the wheels contained the correct water ballast, and the rear or drive wheels were fully extended outward from the EWP.  This was because the EWP would be at risk of tipping over with a person in the basket.

The employee would manoevre the EWP around the Resort gardens, station it in a convenient location and then use it to elevate themselves to the necessary height for pruning.

On the morning of 24 November 2006, the injured person was operating the EWP and using it to prune coconut trees at the front of the Resort.  He was on his own.  The boom was extended approximately 6.5 metres, so he was that far off the ground.

At approximately 10.15 am he telephoned a fellow employee who was working in another area of the resort and asked him for some assistance.  He had accidentally hit the emergency stop button in the basket of the EWP while he was elevated in the basket and he needed someone to re-start the engine below.

Upon arriving at the EWP, the second employee received instructions from him as to how to re-start the EWPs engine.  Once this employee had re-started the engine he gave a wave and began walking away.

At that point, the EWP began to shudder from front to back and then became unstable.  The second employee saw the injured employee leaning to one side in an attempt to counterbalance the EWP but it did not work and the EWP began to fall sideways.

The EWP fell to the ground.  At the time of the accident the drive (rear) wheels were not extended and the injured person hit his head on concrete kerbing at the edge of a garden bed.

He suffered severe brain injuries as a result of the blow to his head and remains permanently disabled.  He has been assessed as being unable to care for himself on an ongoing basis and is unable to ever return to employment.

An inspection of the EWP after the accident by two independent experts concluded that at the time of the accident the EWP could not be safely used because of its poor condition.  In particular the two front castor wheel tyres had no water ballast and the right side drive wheel had incorrect water ballast, and it was not possible to extend the rear or drive wheels outwards to stabilise the EWP due to corrosion of the pivot section.

A large black and yellow "CAUTION" sign was attached to the EWP at the time of the accident.  It said among other things, that when the EWP is in operation:

1.  the wheels must be fully extended when in operation; and
2.  all wheels must be ballasted with water.

The same information was on the first page of the EWP's Owner's manual which was at the workplace.

Outcome Summary

Pleaded Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Broome
Costs $4,540.70

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