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Prosecution Details

Offender Interpact Pty Ltd


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 RHM3912/09 24 January 2008 22nd July 2009 3A(3)(b)(i) $72,000.00 22nd July 2009
Description of Breach(es)

The Accused, being a labour hire client under a labour hire arrangement with a labour hire agent, namely Integrated Group Limited) where work was carried out for remuneration by workers for the Accused in the course of the Accused's trade or business, failed to provide and maintain, so far as is practicable, a working environment in which workers were not exposed to hazards, being matters over which the Accused had capacity to exercise control, and by that failure caused a death: contrary to sections 23F, 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused is a registered company under the Corporations Act 2001 and is known as Interpact Pty Ltd [ACN 062 577 539] and specialises in the production of fertilizer products.

On 24 January 2008, premises located at 23 Office Road, Kwinana Beach was a workplace ("the workplace").

The Accused relies on labour hire workers on a seasonal basis and has a small number of employees. The deceased was engaged by the Accused from Integrated Group Limited. The deceased was an employee of Integrated. There was an agreement as to the supply of labour between the Accused and Integrated.

The deceased was paid for his labour at the Accused's premises by Integrated. Integrated invoiced the Accused for his labour and the Accused then paid Integrated. On 24 January 2008 the deceased was engaged as a general hand.

The Accused's work is largely seasonal and is busier in summer. The workplace consists of a large pit into which truckloads of fertilizer product are dumped several times throughout the year. A conveyor conveys this product up to and above a series of concrete bays.

The product is tipped by a mobile tipper cart from the conveyor through chutes into the bays where the product is then stored for later mixing and distribution. A grid mesh walkway runs alongside the conveyor and underneath the tipper cart. Fertilizer product is poured through the chutes into the bays by the tipper cart. This walkway is approximately 13 metres above ground level.

In the period up to and on 24 January 2008 not all the grid mesh panels were secured to the walkway. All grid mesh panels in the walkway were cradled in an angle iron frame resting under their own weight. Adjacent panels limited lateral movement of each neighbouring panel. In one place a hole had been covered by a thick plank of wood which was similarly cradled in the angle iron frame. During the loading and filling of the bays it was not uncommon for workers to access this walkway.

The deceased had been given a general safety induction by Integrated (his employer) and a site specific induction by the Accused.

On 24 January 2008 the deceased was assisting in the transfer of fertilizer product from the concrete bays for storing for later blending and dispatch. Four or five trucks delivered product and went through the intake process throughout the day.

The deceased's supervisor had gone home for the day at around 11.00 am but had instructed the deceased to go up to the walkway and check the progress of filling the bays every couple of hours. A female employee was looking after the administration of the intake and was told to contact the supervisor if any issues arose.

The deceased had already been up on the walkway, in radio contact with his stepson about 4 times that day to ensure there was no major spillage. He had received clearance to do this from his supervisor. The deceased's stepson, also a labour hire worker, had been assisting in the unloading of delivery trucks.

At approximately 5 pm there had been an overflow of product from one bay to another requiring the tipper cart to be moved to another bay. The supervisor had been contacted regarding moving the tipper cart. The supervisor instructed the deceased to move the tipper cart along to another bay and fill that new bay. He moved the tipper cart to its new position by remote control.

The deceased's stepson noticed something did not appear correct and offered to go and check on whether there was any problem. Instead the deceased went to check whether there was in fact a problem with the tipper cart and went up onto the walkway. He had his two-way radio with him.

His stepson waited for the deceased to return to confirm there was no problem. The deceased took longer than usual to return so his stepson radioed him but received no response. He then contacted the female employee who attempted to make radio contact with the deceased. Neither of them were able to contact the deceased and the female employee went to try and see him from ground level. She could not see the deceased so she sent his stepson to investigate. He went up to the walkway to investigate and saw a hole where a grid mesh panel was missing from the overhead walkway and the deceased was lying on the ground in the bay below on top of the missing grid mesh panel. The fallen grid mesh panel had not been secured to the walkway; it had only been cradled in the angle iron frame under its own weight.

First aid was administered and paramedics called, however he died at the scene from his injuries.

The Accused was aware that the grid mesh panels on the walkway were largely unsecured.

It was practicable for the Accused to have ensured that:
(a) the flooring of the overhead walkway was properly maintained before permitting workers to access that area; and/or
(b) when permitting access to the overhead walkway an alternate fall arrest system was provided to workers; and/or
(c) workers were not permitted to access this overhead walkway until it was put in a proper state of repair.

Following this death the Accused purchased purpose designed clips for the grid mesh panels and installed these clips, securing the grid mesh panels to the walkway. The cost of this purchase was approximately $5000. The installation of these clips was performed by the Accused's workers.

Securing the grid mesh panels in this fashion is consistent with the walkway manufacturer's specifications, and the Code of Practice: Prevention of Falls from Heights.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Rockingham
Costs 1,290.70

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