Worker fined $8000 over eye injury to fellow worker

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A labourer has been fined $8000 (plus more than $1000 in costs) over an incident in which another worker sustained a serious and permanent eye injury.

Steven Alexander Carl Zankl pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety and health of another person, and was fined in the Mandurah Magistrates Court this month.

On November 12, 2009, Mr Zankl was working as a dogger and general labourer on a construction site at Erskine.

At around 10.00am, Mr Zankl scooped up some wet cement from a wheelbarrow on the second floor, walked downstairs to the lift shaft entrance on the first floor and threw the cement down the shaft through the cage that had been installed as a fall prevention system.

Two labourers were working in the pit area of the lift shaft. One of these workers looked up and the cement struck him in the left eye.

The worker sustained a serious chemical burn to his left eye which led to two surgeries and a 15 per cent loss of vision in the eye. The injury is permanent and will probably affect the worker's future employment.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today that the case provided a reminder that employees were responsible for their own safety and the safety of others at work.

"The court heard that Mr Zankl was aware that there were two workers in the pit area of the lift shaft, and he clearly disregarded their safety," Mr McCulloch said.

"This incident actually involved skylarking on the part of the accused without proper consideration of the possible consequences.

"The fact that the consequences were indeed serious should serve as a warning to everyone to think again before doing anything irresponsible, and to always consider the safety of others in the workplace.

"Workers have a clear responsibility under WA’s workplace safety laws to ensure their own safety and that of other workers, and in fact anyone else in the workplace.

"This case illustrates the fact that WorkSafe can and will prosecute anyone in a workplace who disregards safe work practices."

Further information on WA’s workplace safety laws can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 9327 8744 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only).
caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

WorkSafe
Media release
29 Mar 2012

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