Landmark safety case in Western Australian

Author: Micheal News
Western Australia made news today as a company director has been sentenced to gaol time for gross negligence under work health and safety laws.

What Happened?

The owner of MT Sheds was found to be negligent after two of his workers fell from a roof which was under construction. 

Changing weather conditions resulted in wind disrupting the men who were standing on unfixed sheets of roofing iron on top of a large shed they were constructing.

What Happened to the Worker?

One worker plunged to his death whist the second sustained significant, multiple injuries after a fall of more than seven metres.

What Happened to the Director?

The Director, Mr Whithers, pleaded guilty to a charge that the company’s gross negligence offence occurred with his consent or was attributable to his neglect. It was on this charge that Mr Withers was sentenced to imprisonment.

Mr Withers was sentenced to a period of two years and two months in prison, with other financial penalties also imposed on him personally, or on the company, for lesser offences, such as engaging a worker in construction, without a White Card.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said today that culpability for a work-related death did not get much worse than in this case.

“Mr Withers completely failed in every sense to provide a safe workplace for his employees, and as a consequence a young man lost his life and a family lost a loved one,” he said.

What Directors Need to Do

All company officers, including executive and non-executive directors, have a duty of care to ensure the potential risk of harm to a worker is identified, and reasonable steps are taken to mitigate that risk. 

As a director are you aware of your legal obligations? 

If you are a Director, Executive team member or Company Officer and you would like to understand your obligations more clearly contact us today.

Note: Images used in this article are stock images only and are not related to the case discussed. 


About Micheal

Micheal is the Executive Director of C-Suite Safety Solutions and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He brings over two decades’ experience in working directly with key leaders from a diverse range of major global organisations; to deliver expert solutions in governance, risk and strategy that effect positive advancements in workplace safety.

Micheal has first-hand knowledge of the importance of safety practices, from the lunch-room, to the board-room, and the court-room; and combines this experience with a wealth of knowledge in fields of Business; Corporate Governance; Auditing; Industrial WHS; HR and Administrative Leadership.

Micheal