Landscape company and Director fined $95,000 after man’s death

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A landscaping company and its Director have been fined a total of $95,000 (plus $6000 in costs) after a member of the public died after being struck by a bobcat on a landscaping site in November 2011.

Total Landscape Redevelopment Service Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of a person who was not an employee, and was fined $75,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court today.

Christopher Lachlan Cantelo pleaded guilty to a related charge as the sole director of Total Landscape, and was fined $20,000 personally.

The City of Stirling was fined $20,000 in August in relation to the same incident.

In November 2011, the City of Stirling commissioned Total Landscape to undertake landscaping works at Morris Place, Innaloo, outside the Innaloo Community Centre.

The landscaping works were to be part of a broader upgrade of the Morris Place precinct, and included the removal of the existing playground, re-levelling the ground and returfing the area.

There was a small shed in the vicinity of the works which was being utilised by a local amateur theatre group, which also had a licence to use certain parts of the community centre.

On November 25, Total Landscape was using a bobcat (Caterpillar Multi Terrain Loader) to lay and mix sand and “back-blade” it to press it down.  Mr Cantelo was operating the bobcat, which had a significant blind spot to its rear.

Around noon that day, Mr Cantelo had sent all his workers to lunch, leaving him alone on the site other than a member of the amateur theatre group, who had been removing material from the shed and transporting it to a skip bin during the morning.

Mr Cantelo continued to operate the bobcat nonetheless, and was reversing it up an incline when it fatally struck that man.

Prior to commencing the work, the company had placed a sign and some traffic cones around the workplace, but did not take any further measures for traffic or pedestrian management.

The court heard it would have been practicable for Total Landscape to have simply stopped operating the bobcat unless there was either a designated “spotter” on site or at least somebody else on site to observe pedestrian movements and prevent them from approaching the bobcat.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case once again illustrated the need for thorough assessments of the risks associated with any type of work.

“The City of Stirling has already had its day in court for failing to require Total Landscape to assess the risks before starting the job, and these related charges illustrate that safety is the responsibility of not only the organisation that engages the contractor, but also the contractor performing the work and its company Directors,” Mr McCulloch.

“The tragic death of a member of the public on this worksite really brings home the crucial importance of taking basic measures to address serious hazards.

“This is especially important when mobile plant such as bobcats are in use in and around public areas.

“It would have been a simple step for Total Landscape to have ensured there was someone on site preventing pedestrian encroachment.

“The WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health has published a Guidance Note for the Safe Movement of Vehicles at Workplaces, and any workplace involved in this type of work should keep a copy of the Guidance Note in the workplace at all times.”

The Guidance Note and further information on workplace safety can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
31 Oct 2014

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