Should You Help a Tradie to Save Money?
Published on:1st August,2017 Category: Law Updates
Employers Duty of Care where an Employee is Required to Travel for Work
The Supreme Court of Queensland has recently handed down a decision of Kerle v BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Limited & Ors  QSC 304.
The Facts.Amount settled:
Have you ever helped out a tradie in exchange for saving a few dollars on your home renovations or repairs? A recent Queensland Workplace Health & Safety prosecution demonstrates why this is a very bad idea for homeowners and tradies alike.
While you might be able to save a few dollars on your renovation or home maintenance, you could ultimately be putting yourself at risk of serious injury or death.
If you are a tradie who has got the help of a handy homeowner, you might want to think twice after reading about a very recent Workplace Health & Safety prosecution.
WHS Prosecution – Death following Tree Lopping Accident
In 2014 an experienced tree lopper agreed to do a job involving the trimming of eight trees in a backyard.
The tree lopper operated a successful business and for the last twenty years had not had any prior workplace health and safety incidents.
In order to cut costs the homeowner and his family offered to help with the tree lopping by doing some of the lifting and carrying. The tree lopper often conducted his business in this way.
Unfortunately, when one of the trees was cut it struck the homeowner and he was fatally injured.
The tree lopping business was prosecuted by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland. When making its decision about the prosecution and penalty the court noted that the use of untrained workers such as the homeowner in this case was dangerous particularly in light of the unsafe system of work used by the tree lopper and the large trees involved. The tree lopper had cut down a section of tree that was almost 20 metres long and weighed 380kg. The system of work in place did not prevent the tree from fatally striking the homeowner.
The business entered a plea of guilty for failing to meet its work health and safety duties. The business was fined $80,000.00 for the breach and ordered to pay court costs of over $1,000.00.
The penalty for this type of accident could have been much higher (up to $300,000.00), however, in the circumstances the court took into account their early plea of guilty and previous good health and safety record.
Managing Risks to Health and Safety
Health and safety legislation in Queensland exists to make sure that workers and the general public are protected when it comes to work activities. The law requires that hazards be identified and then eliminated so far as is possible or minimised. When untrained members of the public engage in work activities for which they are not trained it is very difficult for a business to argue that it has satisfied its workplace health and safety duties.
A business conducting work that carries any risk of injury should take steps to manage those risks and not invite or allow customers to participate in that work in exchange for discounted services.
If you have a business, a serious incident at work can result in a prosecution by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland. Prosecutions by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland can result in significant penalties and fines.
If you need advice on workplace health and safety prosecutions, workplace injuries, or you have a question about compensation, please contact one of our expert insurance lawyers today.