Businessman on trial over tradie’s fatal roof fall
A SUNSHINE Coast company director is accused of "reckless" conduct over a workplace death where a tradesman fell 6m off a roof without "bulls---" and expensive safety rails.
Director of company on trial, Gary Lavin pleaded not guilty at Maroochydore District Court on Tuesday to reckless conduct after the 62-year-old roofer fell off an industrial shed and died in July 2014.
Lavin's company, Multi-Run Roofing was employed as a subcontractor on the Lake McDonald Rd site to complete the conversion of a brick works into a soft drink factory.
The court heard that Lavin engaged another roofer, Michael Pairama, and his crew to help with the project.
The deceased worker, Whareheepa Te Amo, was employed on this crew.
In his opening statement Crown prosecutor Michael Copley told the jury a quote by Multi-Run Roofing for works to be completed allegedly included provisions for the installation of a safety rail, but it was never done.
Mr Copley said Lavin also allegedly labelled the $10,000 safety rail "health and safety bulls---" in a conversation with someone on site.
"That would cost me $10,000 to put a rail up on this job, f--- that," Lavin allegedly said.
Mr Copley said Te Amo was working on a damp roof the morning he died and was not wearing a safety harness.
The court heard he was unconscious when his colleagues reached him and he died within moments.
Mr Copley said a harness was found on the ground near the body but it was too long to be any use in the fall.
Self-employed roofer, Mr Pairama gave evidence yesterday and told the court Lavin decided there would be no hand rails. The pair decided to use scissor lifts and harnesses as another safety method.
"He didn't specifically say why … I said where's the hand rails and he said there isn't going to be any on site," he said.
Despite the plan, Mr Pairama told the court both these safety methods were not in use the moment Mr Te Amo died.
Under cross examination by defence barrister Laura Reece, Mr Pairama said Mr Te Amo had taken off his harness to walk over and speak to him further along the roof.
"It's impractical … it gets in the way (of other workers)," he said of the harness.
Mr Pairama told the court he "heard" Mr Te Amo step in a gutter before he fell onto rubble and concrete.
He said a large trench prevented the scissor lift from accessing the area below where Mr Te Amo fell.
Ms Reece submitted the lifts were all terrain vehicles and Mr Pairama could have asked for the trench to be filled. He admitted to asking but didn't wait before going ahead with the job.
Mr Copley told the jury that Lavin had a duty to ensure the health and safety of his workers on the site, which included installing railings.
"There is no reasonable excuse for his conduct … reckless as to the risk of death or serious injury," he said.
The trial continues today.