QLD: First category 1 prosecution under work safety laws

Tuesday 14 March, 2017

Workers Laying Roof Tiles

Two family-owned businesses and their respective directors have been committed to stand trial following a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation into the death of a 62-year-old roofer.

These are Queensland’s first category 1 prosecutions under work safety laws, with the companies, if found guilty of the alleged offences, facing possible maximum fines of $3 million, and the two directors fined up to $600,000 each and facing maximum jail terms of five years.

The defendants, Lavin Constructions and Multi-Run Roofing, and company directors Peter Raymond Lavin and Gary William Lavin, have been charged for contravening Section 19 (2) and/or s20 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Whareheepa Te Amo, who only started the job four days earlier, fell almost six metres to his death while working on the edge of a roof without protection.

Te Amo was one of five roofers working on an industrial shed at Lake Macdonald in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland on 29 July 2014 when he fell.

The shed was part of a larger complex being re-furbished by Lavin Constructions, which was the builder in control of the site, while Multi-Run Roofing was engaged to fit roof sheeting.

An indictment relating to four separate complaints under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 was presented at the Maroochydore District Court on 8 February 2017 against the defendants, who will stand trial in the Brisbane District Court. The matter is due for mention on 19 April 2017.

Falls from heights is a serious issue in most industries, particularly construction, said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland head Simon Blackwood.

“The roofing/re-roofing trade is certainly one where things can go wrong at height. In this case, the court will hear evidence that appropriate safety equipment was available and onsite.”

It is alleged that Te Amo was several metres ahead of two scissor lifts being used for fall control and not wearing a personal fall protection harness.

“Not following simple safety guidelines and taking unnecessary risks is just not on,” Blackwood said.