Canberra developer fined $180k

A Canberra developer has been fined $180,000, after a 16-year-old fell from a worksite ladder and broke his neck.

The developer pleaded guilty to charges of breaching safety obligations, and was fined by the ACT Industrial Court over the 2016 accident.

The boy was standing on a ladder positioned next to an open stairwell, when he was called down by a worker.

As he was descending the ladder, he fell backwards into the hole from a height of 6 meters, sustaining severe neck and spine damage.

While on site, the boy had been participating in a school program under a contractor, working alongside a second different contractor.

Both contractors paid penalties of $132,000 and agreed to abide by enforceable undertakings. The developer, however, faced court with the charge of failing their safety duty, resulting in the $180k fine.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston had this to say:

“I note that the defendant concedes that this risk is notorious.”

“The voids could have very easily have been covered had the defendant, through its officers, insisted that occur.”

“The defendant had a range of simple measures available to it to persuade Feel Style to take such action.”

Theakston also found that the developer was unaware the student was not an apprentice, but part of a work experience group.

The ACT’s work safety commissioner Greg Jones has claimed that the fine was ‘underdone’.

“WorkSafe had an expectation of a more substantial deterrent.”

“We were thinking that this fine was a little bit underdone, we were expecting a higher penalty to provide a deterrent effect on that.”

The developer will have 18 months to pay their penalty, while WorkSafe seeks further advice on whether to appeal the decision.

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