Work Fatality and seeking compensation. Walker Law Group is a specialised legal practise with expertise in the area of Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury. Our firm is led by a Law Society Accredited Specialist, Steve Walker who has run over 6300 insurance claims in the last ten years. Our years of experience coupled with our passion for assisting our clients means that we know how to fight the insurance companies and maximise your compensation.
If a family member has been injured or sadly died as a result of a work-related incident, contact Walker Law Group to find out if you are entitled to compensation.
Below, you will find a recent case example where a worker, unfortunately died due to an incident at work. This case resulted in the employer being fined $300,000.00 by SafeWork NSW.
- Case Study
- What happened?
In September 2013, a 47 year old man was electrocuted to death while on the work site in Bulahdelah. He was holding an electrical conductor which was reenergised while he was holding it. It became re energised when it came into contact with an energised overhead conductor.
At the time, he was employed by Essential Energy. Following a thorough investigation by SafeWork NSW, Essential Energy was fined $300,000. SafeWork NSW found that Essential Energy was aware that the risk that existed, but did not do anything to remove the risk. Essential Energy was aware of the risk that keeping top conductors energised while workers moved the conductors below them could lead to a chance of the bottom conductors being reenergised. However, they kept these top conductors as it was more convenient for service delivery.
- What legislation was Essential Energy charged under?
Essential Energy was found to have breached section 19(1) and section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). By breaching these two sections, Essential Energy did not comply with the requirement to take care of the health and safety of workers.
Section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) states that a person conducting a business must ensure the health and safety of workers as far as reasonably possible. The person conducting the business must ensure the safety of workers that they employ themselves as well as workers whose activities are influenced or directed by the person undertaking the business. In this case, the person which must be ensuring the health and safety is Essential Energy. By allowing workers to work in an area where they knew that there was a chance of bottom conductors becoming re-energised, Essential Energy breached section 19.
Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) defines a Category 2 offence. A Category 2 offence is committed is a person has a health and safety duty and that same person fails to comply with that duty and this failure to comply with the duty exposses an individual to a risk of death or serious injury. In this case Essential Energy have a health and safety duty and this person failed to comply with the duty and the duty, not only exposed the person to risk of death, but actually resulted in death.
The maximum penalty for this type of offence is $1,500,000.00.
How this case was decided
If Essential Energy has complied with the above sections, then the incident leading to the death could have been easily prevented.
The Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy made comments to the effect that the investigation found that, had Essential Energy ensured that the top conductors were de-energised, then the incident leading to the death of the worker at the worksite could have been avoided.
The fact of the matter is that although the placement of the conductors was important for service delivery, what was of far more importance was the health and safety of workers. Mr Dunphy reinforced that the safety and wellbeing of workers was to be treated as the number one priority.
In deciding this case, the Court did acknowledge the fact that since the incident occurred, Essential Energy had made an effort to address the work health and safety issues at hand. On the same day that the incident occurred, Essential Energy prohibited the practise of having the top conductors and bottom conductors arranged in that way. This prohibition still applies today. Essential Energy have taken further steps to prevent this type of incident from occurring again including the installation of 178 defibrillators at 178 worksites. They have also provided financial assistance to the worker’s family.
- What to do if your family member is injured at work and how to seek compensation
If a family member is injured or passes away at work, then you need to contact Walker Law Group. Our solicitors are specialised in these types of claims and can determine whether or not you have a case. If a worker has died as a result of a workplace injury, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment, weekly payments for each dependent child and reasonable funeral expense. WorkCover NSW will be responsible for paying these support payments and funeral expenses.
- Why choose us
At Walker Law Group, we truly care for our clients. We have a no win, no fee policy, all our costs are covered by Workcover, you will never be out of pocket.
As member of the panel of select Workers Compensation Lawyers that deal directly with the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office, also known as WIRO, you can be sure that you are receiving legal advice from the best in the business. Our solicitors are highly qualified and experienced, having been through the claims process hundreds of time each.
If you have family member who has been injured at work or know someone who does, then contact Walker Law Group for the best legal advice. You can find us at www.walkerlawgroup.com.au. Contact us on 1300 363 013 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.