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Fine over fatal accident in Western Australia

Media release

 - 17 Feb 2012

Transpacific Industries Pty Ltd (TPI) has been fined $170 500 following court action from Comcare, the federal health and safety regulator, after the death of a TPI worker at the Alcoa Wagerup Refinery in Western Australia in September 2009.

51 year old Paul Fry was killed at work after falling through an open manhole of a large metal tank.

Mr Fry fell through a chute at the bottom of the tank, 25 metres to the ground.

The Federal Court found TPI was in serious breach of federal health and safety laws at the plant when the accident occurred on 2 September 2009.

In the judgment handed down by Justice Barker, TPI were found to have failed to identify the ‘fall hazard’, risk assess the fall hazard, or implement reasonably practicable controls to protect its employees from the fall hazard.

Justice Barker found that the fall hazard was not one where a person might trip and fall, but a fall hazard that was prominent because a worker might expose themselves to the fall hazard in an attempt to expedite the work they were engaged in.

Justice Barker found that “properly managed organisations will always ensure that employees are fully aware of all of the sorts of mishaps that can occur in a workplace and lead to serious injuries and fatalities.”

Comcare’s General Manager of Regulatory Services, Neil Quarmby said the offence was an extremely serious one in which a worker lost his life.

“Unfortunately, it’s these kinds of incidents, although relatively rare, which bring home to us all the vital importance of recognising the risks in the workplace and taking whatever measures possible to prevent tragedies such as these,” Mr Quarmby said.

Media Contact:

Russ Street
0478 305 675

Media Release: Fine over fatal accident in Western Australia [PDF,31KB]

A 'fall hazard' is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994, in Part 13, as "an object or circumstance that increases the risk of fall". Under the old OHS Act in force at the time of this accident, it required employers to take every reasonably practicable step available to them to eliminate, or minimise, the risk of injury through falling due to the 'fall hazard'.

Page last updated: 04 Nov 2013