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Prosecution Details

Offender Brett Sidney Cavanagh (ABN: 91 731 084 461)


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 KT429/2023 20/08/2020 8th August 2023 3A(3)(a)(i) $47,250.00 4th September 2023
Description of Breach(es)

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

Background Details

Background and Employment

The Offender is an individual/sole trader and has worked for himself since 2003 in the Kojonup area. He primarily does concrete work however has also built sheds, including installing shed roofs, and performed work on house roofs, carports and garages. He employed a worker (Worker 1) on a regular but casual basis and also employed the victim on a less regular and casual basis.

The Workplace

The Offender was engaged by a company to install insulation to the underside of a mechanical workshop (the workshop) roof (the roof) and later to replace skylight panels in the roof with tin panels.

These works were performed as separate jobs approximately 6 months apart. The insulation was installed in March 2020 and the skylight panels were replaced with tin panels on 20 August 2020

Prior Attendance at the Workplace

Prior to installing the insulation in March 2020, the offender attended the workshop to inspect the top of the roof and take measurements. He did not inspect the underside of the roof.

In March 2020 the offender, worker 1, and two other non-employees (helpers) installed the insulation to the workshop roof.

During the installation of the insulation the offender, and workers worked around, and in close proximity to, the skylight panels in the workshop roof. None of the workers were using a Fall Injury Prevention System (FIPS).

At some point after the insulation had been installed a leak developed in the workshop roof due to a crack in one of the skylight panels. The offender was then engaged by the company to replace the skylight panels with tin panels. He would order the materials and perform the job once the materials were available.

The Incident

On 20 August 2020 the offender, worker 1 and the victim attended the workshop to carry out the work of removing the skylight panels and replacing with tin panels. No risk assessment was done prior to the work commencing.

The offender and worker 1 gained access to the workshop roof via a ladder positioned against a ‘lean to’ that was attached to the workshop. Neither were using a FIPS.

The victim’s role was to remain on the ground and pass the tin sheets from the ground up to the ‘lean to’ that was attached to the workshop and receive the skylight sheets as they were being removed and stack them on the ground.

The offender and worker 1 worked on the roof, removing screws from the skylight panels and starting the process of removing the panels.

The skylight panels were difficult to see as they had turned opaque. The skylight panels were approximately 760mm wide and ran the between the roof ridge and gutter line, a distance of approximately 4800mm wide. The offender did not identify the skylight panels using signage or by any other means.

Worker 1 had reason to get off the workshop roof. As he was doing so the victim indicated he was going to get onto the workshop roof. Worker 1 told the victim to be careful where he was walking. Soon after worker 1 returned to work on the workshop roof.

At some point the victim got onto the workshop roof and provided some assistance to the offender. He was not using a FIPS.

The offender saw the victim on the workshop roof and told him “don’t go walking around these clear sheets” or “don’t go walking around up here” or something similar. He did not inform the victim that there was brittle or fragile roofing nor provide training or instructions regarding the precautions to take in relation the brittle or fragile roofing. He also did not instruct the victim to get off the workshop roof.

Approximately 2-3 minutes later the offender heard a noise and looked up. He could no longer see victim on the workshop roof.

The victim fell to the workshop floor below, falling directly below a skylight panel with a hole in it. The distance between the location of the hole in the skylight and the ground below was approximately 4.8m.

The victim was conscious and had a visible injury to his left arm and was bleeding.  An ambulance was called, and the victim was conveyed to the local hospital before being transported to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) where he remained for some time.

Serious Harm

The victim sustained the following injuries as a result of falling through a skylight panel to the ground below; fractures to ribs, L2 to L4 vertebrae, elbow and pelvis; large left flank haematoma; cardiac contusion and concussion.

Subsequent to the Incident

Following the incident, the offender purchased a safety harness and safety line at a cost of $318.00, and a full roofer’s kit at a cost of $763.64. He also completed a training course for working safely at heights at a cost of $113.08.

Outcome Summary

The offender plead guilty at first mention.  On 4 September 2023 the Magistrate issued an initial fine of $70K which was then reduced 25% for guilty plea, further 10% reduction for cooperation, remorse, fact that instructions were given (albeit inadequate) to fine of $47,250.00 and ordered costs of $4241.80

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Katanning
Costs $4241.80

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