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WorkSafe ACT upset at penalty given to builder over teen’s fall

Ian Bushnell 10 September 2019

The ACT Industrial Court has taken Nikias Diamond Property Development Pty Ltd’s guilty plea into account in sentencing the builder. File photo.

WorkSafe ACT has hit out at the penalty given to a Canberra developer over a fall at one of its building sites that left a teenager with life-changing injuries.

In 2016, a 16-year-old on a student work program stepped into an open void off a ladder on a work site in Amaroo run by Nikias Diamond Property Development Pty Ltd. He was on a school/work-based experience program and fell six metres, sustaining significant injuries.

On Monday (9 September) the ACT Industrial Court fined Nikias Diamond $180,000 and recorded a conviction after the developer pleaded guilty, which was taken into account in the Reasons for Sentence.

But ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said that WorkSafe ACT was disappointed by the penalty, noting that the particular breach of duty (section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT)) carried a possible maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

“WorkSafe ACT is disappointed by the outcome today,” he said. “The worker involved in this incident has suffered significant and life-changing injuries.

“Noting that this incident could have quite easily been fatal, WorkSafe expected a greater penalty in recognition of this and to provide a strong deterrence for industry.”

Mr Jones said that falls from heights remained one of the greatest risks for death and significant injury in the construction sector, with young workers often over-represented in such incidents.

He said that two sub-contractors who also held work health and safety duties at the site at the time of the incident had already entered into separate Enforceable Undertakings with WorkSafe ACT.

This provided a safety contribution to workers and the community of $132,000 for each company.

WorkSafe ACT is seeking further advice on whether to appeal the penalty imposed on Nikias Diamond.

 


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