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An accountant has been awarded $476,163 after the Federal Court determined she had been sexually harassed and assaulted by a contractor.

The case against the contractor was heard in December 2012 and the judgement handed down last week.

On the balance of probabilities, the court found the accountant had been subjected to sexual harassment and assault in May 2009, and the contractor had breached s 28B of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

The court determined the contractor had behaved in a sexually suggestive manner toward the accountant at work, touched her inappropriately while she was at her desk, pressured her to attend a pub with him for a drink, proposed she have an affair with him, sexually propositioned her, tried to kiss her, had sexual intercourse with her and sexually assaulted her.

The court described the contractor as “an arrogant individual with little or no regard for the truth”.

The accountant told the court she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric illness and is unable to work as a result of the incidents.

The court ordered the contractor to pay the accountant $476,163 plus interest. However, to avoid “double recovery”, any lump sum settlements the accountant had reached with her employer, the contractor’s recruitment and labour hire firm or others had to be deducted from this amount.

The accountant also made a formal complaint to police in June 2009, alleging she had been raped on 15 May 2009.

For more details, visit the court case.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A company has been prosecuted after it failed to stop a high-risk work procedure in which a worker was crushed between a roller door and a forklift.

At the time of the incident, Holsten’s Pty Ltd’s roller door had been malfunctioning for some time, SafeWork SA said in a media release.

The workers would stand on the tines of the forklift so they could be lifted up to manually pull down the door.

“The employer was aware of this practice and did not stop the use of the forklift for this purpose, despite the availability of a platform ladder at the premises,” SafeWork SA said.

“Other employees who regularly operated the forklift did not hold valid high risk work licences.”

The worker was injured when he was lifted too high and was crushed between the roller door and the back rail of the forklift, SafeWork SA said.

The worker was treated in hospital for rib, back, right shoulder, chest, stomach and lung injuries.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company in the South Australian Industrial Relations Court for breaching the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined $66,000 plus costs.

For more details, visit SafeWork SA.

Published on 26 September 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A company and its director have been fined a total of $100,000 after a 19-year-old independent contractor sustained serious neck and head injuries in a fall.

Mallon Company Pty Ltd was engaged to replace a roof in August 2010, WorkSafe Western Australia said in a media release.

Mallon subcontracted the re-roofing to Debri Pty Ltd, and subcontracted the lifting of the old roof and the landing of the new roof to Terry’s Crane Hire.

Terry’s Crane Hire engaged a 19-year-old independent contractor to carry out the dogging work.

The worked started in September 2010.

Debri’s employees warned the dogger to be aware of rusty sheets and damaged polycarbonate sheeting on the roof.

However, when the dogger was on the roof removing slings from a pack of metal sheets, he inadvertently stood on the end of the damaged polycarbonate sheeting and fell on to the cement floor 3.3 metres below.

He sustained serious head and neck injuries.

At the time of the incident, no safety mesh was installed in that part of the building, WorkSafe said.

Mallon and its director were prosecuted for the incident and pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates last week.

The court found that they had failed to work with Debri and Terry’s Crane Hire to ensure the risks of falling were managed, said WorkSafe.

Mallon was fined $70,000 and its director Michael Moore was fined $30,000.

Terry’s Crane Hire and its director were prosecuted in June and fined $71,000.

Debri is still to be prosecuted.

For more details, visit WorkSafe.

Published on 26 September 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Three companies, two directors, a project manager and a site manager have been fined $330,000 after a worker sustained serious brain injuries.

The worker had been moving building materials on a housing construction site in Western Sydney when he fell four metres through an uncovered hole in August 2009, said WorkCover NSW in a media statement.

He landed on a concrete floor, sustaining severe head and brain injuries – including a brain haemorrhage – tissue damage and bruising.

The companies and the individuals were prosecuted for breaching the NSW Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000.

The site developer and manager, Multiplus Group Pty Ltd was fined $110,000, and its director was fined $11,000 in the Industrial Court of NSW on 16 August, said WorkCover NSW.

The other companies and individuals had been prosecuted previously.

Carpentry company, Aleksic Carpentry Pty Ltd, and its director were fined a total of $135,000 in May 2012.

Construction company, Austar Constructions Pty Ltd, which supplied the site manager and project manager, was fined $50,000 in October 2012.

The site manager was fined $12,000 in August 2012, and the project manager was fined $12,500 in February 2013.

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW.

A South Australian magistrate has fined a company director $200,000 and criticised him for taking out indemnity insurance to cover criminal work health and safety penalties.

Director Paolo Maione and his company, Ferro Con (SA) Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of South Australia to breaching the South Australian Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986.

The prosecution followed a SafeWork SA investigation into an incident in which a worker died at the company on 16 July 2010.

The investigation found that a crane was lifting a 1.8-tonne, 14 metre-long steel beam when the sling supporting the beam broke, causing the end of the beam to drop onto the worker’s head.

The worker was knocked unconscious and died a short time later.

“No risk assessment or job safety analysis had been undertaken for this type of lift, and no safe working procedure had been devised to take account of the particular hazards of the task,” Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke said in his ruling.

Maione and the company were each convicted and fined $200,000. Maione was ordered to pay $20,000 in compensation to the worker’s family.

He was also ordered to publish notices of the conviction and penalty to the employees of the companies of which he was the responsible officer on the date of the judgement (27 June 2013).

In addition, the notice was to be published in the Saturday Adelaide Advertiser, The Weekend Australian, and the journal of the Master Builders Association.

Magistrate Lieschke said that the Court was unable to challenge the company’s “general insurance policy, which apparently included indemnification of its Director for fines imposed for his criminal conduct”.

Lieschke was scathing of such indemnity. “In my opinion Mr Maione’s actions have also undermined the Court’s sentencing powers by negating the principles of both specific and general deterrence.

“The message his actions send to employers and Responsible Officers is that with insurance cover for criminal penalties for OHS offences there is little need to fear the consequences of very serious offending, even if an offence has fatal consequences.

“As for specific deterrence Mr Maione has not said he no longer has such insurance for his current businesses.”

For more details, visit the case and SafeWork SA.

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