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Lessons from SafeWork NSW v Laggner Constructions Pty Ltd

Dan the Safety Man

3 min read

Jun 12

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In a recent court case, SafeWork NSW v Laggner Constructions Pty Ltd [2024] NSWDC 204, the New South Wales District Court highlighted critical aspects of workplace safety compliance and the severe consequences of failing to adhere to established safety protocols. This case serves as a stark reminder to all businesses, particularly those in high-risk industries like construction, about the importance of rigorous safety measures and the legal obligations to protect workers.


Case Overview

Laggner Constructions Pty Ltd was prosecuted for breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). The company failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers, exposing them to significant risks, which led to a serious injury incident. The court found that Laggner Constructions did not take adequate measures to cover a stairway void on a construction site, resulting in a worker, Mr Taejun Park, falling through the void and sustaining severe injuries.


Incident Details

The incident occurred on 19 October 2021, at a residential property in Murrumbateman, NSW, where Laggner Constructions was contracted to build an upper floor extension. Despite being aware of the risks, the company placed unsecured plywood sheets over the void, which were insufficient to support a person’s weight. This makeshift solution failed, causing Mr Park to fall approximately 2.7 meters, resulting in a left tibial plateau fracture and a T-12 burst fracture.


Legal Findings and Sentencing

Judge Scotting DCJ emphasised the objective seriousness of the offence, noting that the risk of falling was obvious and known to the offender. The company had prior knowledge of the hazard but did not take effective steps to mitigate it. The court imposed a fine of $75,000 on Laggner Constructions and ordered them to pay the prosecutor’s costs, highlighting both general and specific deterrence as key factors in the sentencing.


Key Lessons for WHS Compliance


  1. Risk Assessment and Mitigation: The case underscores the necessity of thorough risk assessments and implementing robust mitigation measures. Temporary fixes, like the unsecured plywood in this case, are insufficient and can lead to severe consequences.

  2. Communication and Documentation: Effective communication of hazards to all workers and ensuring that safety protocols are well-documented and understood are crucial. In this incident, the lack of clear communication about the void significantly contributed to the accident.

  3. Supervision and Enforcement: Continuous supervision and enforcement of safety measures are vital. Regular safety audits and checks can prevent lapses in safety practices and ensure compliance with safety plans.

  4. Training and Induction: Comprehensive safety training and induction for all workers, including subcontractors, are essential. Workers should be aware of all site-specific hazards and trained in safe work practices.

  5. Prompt Response and Remediation: Following the incident, Laggner Constructions took corrective actions, including installing a secure cover over the void and improving their safety systems. Prompt response and remediation can mitigate further risks and demonstrate a commitment to safety.


Moving Forward

This case is a powerful reminder of the legal and moral responsibilities of employers to ensure a safe working environment. For companies in the construction industry, adopting a proactive approach to workplace safety is not just a regulatory requirement but a crucial aspect of operational integrity and worker well-being.


WHS Guardian is committed to supporting businesses in navigating their safety obligations and implementing best practices to prevent workplace incidents. For more information on how we can assist your company in enhancing its safety protocols, please contact us today.


Stay safe, stay compliant.


Case: SafeWork NSW v Laggner Constructions Pty Ltd [2024] NSWDC 204

Prosecutor: SafeWork NSW, Barrister Sian McGee

Defence: Sparke Helmore Lawyers, Barrister Bilal Rauf

Author: WHS Guardian, Daniel Patterson (WHSO W01422)

Dan the Safety Man

3 min read

Jun 12

47

1

0

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