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In October 2016 two men working on a construction site lost their lives, and those in charge of the site are facing the consequences of not running a safe site, and of not having the proper WHS documents in place.

Tragically these deaths could have been avoided, in fact merely days beforehand workers walked off the site due to safety concerns.

One man is facing two manslaughter charges, three other men are facing various reckless conduct charges and a construction company has been fined over $400 000.

It’s hard to imagine something so catastrophic happening to you, your workers or your business, but it can happen, none of these business owners expected that their failures would lead to the deaths of two men, and that they would be facing gaol time and extensive fines.

Many Principal Contractors and subcontractors think that they can’t be held responsible for the acts of others on the worksite. But this case proves the legislation is correct when it says you can’t transfer your obligations on to another person. If you have obligations, you must ensure they are carried out. In this case the Principal Contractor, site supervisor and sub-contractors are all facing fines and charges.

4 Men Charged! Proof that you can't avoid your WHS obligations whatever your role on site

That means if you are the Principal Contractor you are responsible for making sure subcontractors are working safely and that the correct WHS documentation is onsite. And if you are a subcontractor you need to ensure you are complying with all WHS laws and requirements despite what your Principal Contractor is doing.

While these cases still have to go to court Worksafe Queensland allegations include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Some safe work method statements were not up to date
  • Did not receive safe work method statements from some subcontractors
  • Failure to comply with safe work method statements provided
  • Failure to enforce exclusion zones
  • Failure to adhere to accepted safe work procedures
  • Failure to meet Codes of Practice
  • Failure to ensure workers were trained in the identified risks of the work

Often when an incident occurs in the workplace it is not one event, but several failures and deficiencies that lead to the event.

By doing everything you can to ensure you meet your obligations you are significantly reducing your risk of a serious incident or fatality occurring on your work site.

Everyone has the right to leave work in the same condition in which they arrived.

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