|Firm Construction Pty Ltd (ACN:105 062 940)
|8th May 2023
|19(1) 19A(2) 23D
|3rd July 2023
|Description of Breach(es)
Being a principal who in the course of trade or business engaged a contractor to carry out work for it, failed, so far as was practicable, and in relation to matters over which it had the capacity to exercise control, to provide and maintain a working environment in which persons engaged or employed by the contractor to carry out or assist in carrying out the work concerned were not exposed to hazards, and by that contravention caused serious harm to workers.
Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) – Sections 19(1), 19A(2) and 23D.
THE HOTEL ROTTNEST RESORT DEVELOPMENT
The offender was the principal contractor for the construction of the Hotel Rottnest Resort Development which included the construction of two storey buildings including 80 luxury rooms and function facilities. The Hotel Rottnest Resort Development is located at Thompson Bay, Rottnest Island bounded by Bedford Avenue, Parker Point Road and McCallum Avenue (Site).
This matter concerns a formwork collapse that occurred during the construction of on the Hotel Rottnest Resort Development which resulted in injuries to workers.
The formwork in this matter was comprised of permanent formwork and temporary formwork. The permanent formwork, referred to as decking, was comprised of a propriety system called Stramit Condeck HP Composite proprietary formwork system which are long steel sheets which interlock and form a base (or deck) for the concrete to poured onto (Condeck). The temporary formwork holds up the decking/Condeck until the concrete has set and includes items such as props, bearers and sole plates.
On 12 February 2020, the temporary formwork collapsed. As a result, two workers suffered serious injuries. Another worker suffered less serious injuries and a further five workers were working within the vicinity of the collapse but were uninjured.
THE PRINCIPAL AND CONTRACTOR RELATIONSHIPS
The offender engaged a carpentry company to install the Condeck and then temporary formwork for the first floor suspended slab located at the south west corner of the Site. The carpentry company engaged one of the seriously injured workers.
The offender engaged a concreting company (Concrete Company A) to install concrete, including the labour to install the concrete on the day of the 12 February 2020 to form a first floor suspended slab located at the south west corner of the Site. The concreting company employed 5 workers including one of the injured workers.
The offender engaged another concrete company (Concrete Company B) to supply a concrete pump and operators, including for the pumping of concrete on 12 February 2020. Concrete Company B employed two workers of which one was the less seriously injured worker.
The temporary formwork was installed by the carpentry company. At approximately 10.00am on 12 February 2020, Concrete company B workers were standing on the Condeck at the Luggage and Linen Location, pumping the concrete from a truck up to the Condeck at the first floor level.
Concrete Company A workers were also standing upon the Condeck first floor level and were spreading, vibrating and screeding the concrete upon the Condeck. At this time, an estimated 16 cubic metres (38 tonnes) of concrete had been poured upon the Condeck.
At approximately 11.30am on 12 February 2020, concrete was being poured at the first floor suspended slab when, without any notice, the temporary formwork collapsed, causing the Condeck to give way and collapse to the ground. The collapse was caused by the overloading of the props, being a component of the temporary formwork, used to support the Condeck.
PERSONS INVOLVED IN THE INCIDENT
Victim 1 was working under the Condeck at the time of the collapse. As a result of the collapse, he suffered injuries including fractures to his T9 and L1 vertebrae, fracture to his sternum, lacerations to his left shoulder and knee, and chemical burns to his throat.
Victim 2 was standing on top of the Condeck at the time of the collapse. As a result of the collapse, he suffered injuries including fractures to his L2 vertebrae, fractures to his left ankle and chemical burns to his throat/voice box.
Victim 3 was standing on top of the Condeck at the time of collapse. As a result, he suffered injuries including bruising on his arms, stomach and ribs.
Other workers were working nearby when the collapse occurred, but were uninjured.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE HAZARD
On 24 June 2019, the offender developed a specific Hotel Rottnest Risk and Opportunity Register. This register identified an issue, aspect or hazard if erected formwork is not inspected and authorised by an engineer to ensure compliance and safety. The control measure was identified as having the erected formwork inspected and authorised by an engineer. Sometime prior to the concrete pour, the formwork and propping system were checked by the Site Supervisor for the offender which was recorded on the offender's Concrete Checklist. The Concrete Checklist required that formwork be set-out in accordance with relevant drawings, have ties and bracing being completed and adequate and have a third party engineer comments complied with. However, there was no design drawing for the temporary formwork.
The Site Supervisor at the Site for the offender, stated in an interview with investigators that it was common construction industry knowledge that formwork needs to be engineered.
The Construction Manager at the Site for the offender, stated in an interview with investigators that he thought the Australian Standards dealt with formwork.
Australian Standard AS 3610 – 1995 Formwork for concrete (Standard) contains detailed guidance as to the design, fabrication, erection and stripping of formwork. Clause 4.5.1 of the Standard requires that the design of the formwork must accord with the requirements of Clause 4.5.2 which refers to detailed engineering principles of design. Clause 4.7.1 of the Standard requires that all formwork shall have documentation which shall include, as appropriate, plans, elevations and sections sufficient to depict the general arrangement of the formwork and to identify all members and components, including bracing. Clause 22.214.171.124 of the Standard requires that inspections of the formwork shall be carried out prior to placement of concrete to ensure that, among other things, it complies with the formwork drawings and has been erected in accordance with the requirements of the Standard.
It was reasonably practicable for the offender to:
The offender failed to implement any of those practicable measures and by that failure caused serious harm to two workers.
After the collapse, the Offender engaged an engineering company to produce a temporary formwork design and to perform a site inspection to ensure the formwork system was installed in accordance with their design. The luggage and linen suspended slab was successfully constructed using the formwork designed by the engineering company. The engineering company charged the offender $500 plus GST to produce the temporary formwork design and $1,500 plus GST to inspect and certify that the temporary formwork had been installed in accordance with engineering company design.
The offender at time of proceedings was in liquidation and offered no defence. The Magistrate entered a guilty conviction under s 55 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004. On 3 July 2023 the Magistrate issued a fine of $600,000. No order for costs.
|Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Search the records of all successful prosecutions taken by WorkSafe under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 since 1st January 2005. Searching and indexing of this database is limited to convictions for offences against the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 committed on or after 1 January 2005, when the statutory offence and penalty regimes were significantly amended.
Offences committed prior to 1 January 2005, while of limited comparative relevance, can be accessed via the following link.