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Hotelier company fined $70,000 after contractor injured due to unguarded cellar void

Media Release
13 December 2019

The South Australian Employment Tribunal has convicted and fined S & AD Basheer Nominees Pty Ltd a total of $70,000 plus legal fees after a contractor was injured when he fell into an open and unguarded cellar.

SafeWork SA prosecuted S & AD Basheer Nominees, who operate the Strathmore Hotel located on North Terrace, for a breach of s32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) for failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment, namely by ensuring the cellar void was appropriately guarded, and to provide adequate information and training to its employees.

The Tribunal heard that the defendant engaged Murray Pest and Weed Control to perform pest eradication and control maintenance services at the Strathmore Hotel.

In August 2013 a Murray’s contractor was injured when he fell through the open trapdoors of a cellar in the Hotel’s gaming room. The victim sustained a spleen laceration and required immediate treatment in hospital.

SafeWork SA’s investigation found that inadequate training and safety instructions were provided to the defendant’s employees. Statutory Improvement Notices were issued to ensure a barrier was provided around the void when trapdoors to the cellar were open.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said that there is no excuse for failing to provide a safe working environment

“This incident could have been prevented had a physical barrier been in place and safe systems of work in place,” Mr Campbell said.

“SafeWork SA will not hesitate to prosecute employers who expose workers to risk of serious injury by not taking workplace health and safety seriously.”

In his decision, Deputy President Magistrate Cole said: “this was a serious breach of the Work Health and Safety Act, and deterrence is an important consideration in determining penalty.”

Deputy President Cole acknowledged that the company accepted responsibility for the incident and introduced a range of measures in response to the incident. The defendant faced a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

The Tribunal imposed a fine of $100,000 which was reduced by 30 per cent to $70,000 for the defendant’s early guilty plea, demonstration of remorse and cooperation with SafeWork SA. In addition, a victim of crime levy, court costs and prosecution costs were ordered.