$135,000 fine for home insulation scheme death
A Queensland company behind one of the four fatalities under the Federal Government’s discontinued home insulation scheme was recently fined $135,000.
The company, Arrow Property Maintenance, was fined by the Rockhampton Magistrates Court over the death of 16-year-old Rueben Barnes in November last year.
The teenager was installing fibreglass insulation at a house near Rockhampton when he was fatally electrocuted.
Following the incident, a joint investigation by inspectors from the Electrical Safety Office and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, found that, prior to the work, a screw had penetrated a cable and caused parts of the house, including a ceiling batten, to be live.
The investigation also found that the teenage worker was using a conductive, aluminium pole to position or place insulation batts, without any part of the house being isolated or de-energised.
Furthermore, workers were only given minimal induction or training, there were no specific or documented procedures in place for installation of insulation and no first aid training was provided to workers for treatment of electric shock.
Arrow Property Maintenance pleaded guilty to breaching section 27 of the Queensland Electrical Safety Act 2002 for failing to conduct its business or undertaking in a way that was electrically safe and section 24 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 for failing to ensure its workers were protected from falls from height.
In a parting shot, the company said the Federal Government should shoulder some of the blame, but the Queensland Council of Unions said it should stop passing the buck.
“As the court said, we’re not in the industrial revolution era, we are in the 21st century,” said Craig Allen from the Queensland Council of Unions.
“There is an expectation of communities that workers come home alive after they go to work each day.
“We have had Workplace Health and Safety legislation in Queensland since 1995 – there are clear protocols in that legislation of what the responsibilities of employers are in this state.”