The NSW District Court recently fined a window glass company $1 million – the highest ever fine imposed in NSW under the Work Health and Safety Act – following an incident in which a worker was electrocuted and suffered serious burns.
On 19 June 2014, a contractor of WGA Pty Ltd sustained an electric shock while working on a window ledge at a residential-apartment construction site in South Hurstville.
The 49-year-old man was installing a piece of aluminium to the outside of a window when the power jumped to the metal from nearby 33,000-volt power lines feeding the Illawarra train line. The worker suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body.
Following an investigation by SafeWork NSW, WGA was charged with a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act, and convicted and sentenced in the District Court.
Prior to the incident, a SafeWork NSW inspector and Sydney Trains had provided advice to WGA about working safely around these power lines.
However, WGA did not heed this advice and the court found the company failed to take the necessary steps to protect the worker – such as having electricity to the power lines isolated before undertaking external work to the building.
The defendant did not attend court upon sentencing and has 28 days to lodge a notice of intention to appeal.