Conviction after young worker suffers electric shock

Source: Safe to Work

Two companies and a director were convicted yesterday after a 21 year-old worker on a building site suffered an electric shock when he came into contact with overhead powerlines.

The 2008 incident occurred despite warnings from the network electricity supplier to the company responsible for the site, Hometec Industries Pty Ltd, and director Carmine Salvatore.

Yesterday at the Melbourne Magistrate's Court, Hometec and Mr Salvatore were convicted and fined $30,000 and $20,000 respectively.

Roofing and installation company CSR Building Products Limited was also convicted and ordered to pay $12,500 to the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) at Monash University, for failing adequately train and supervise workers installing the roofing.

CSR Building Products had engaged the injured worker's employer and brother Mark Watson, who was convicted and fined $8,000 earlier this year for failing to perform a job safety analysis, which considered hazards including powerlines.

The incident occurred when the injured worker was helping install a roof on a Neerim South domestic construction site, when he made contact with an overhead powerline. He suffered serious burn injuries to his right and left hands and left foot.

"What has happened here is a number of failures in a chain of responsibility," WorkSafe's Executive Director for Health and Safety Ian Forsyth said.

"Hometec and its director were warned about the no-go zone by the electricity supplier and ordered to stop construction work, yet they failed to do so.

"CSR Building Products had a responsibility to make sure their contractors could do their job safely - which they failed to uphold.

"And the worker's direct employer, Mark Watson, had an obligation to make sure the construction site was safe by performing a job safety analysis, which considered risks including powerlines.

"None of these parties managed to fulfil their responsibilities. The upshot of all of this is that a young worker suffered debilitating injuries with long recovery times," Mr Forsyth said.