First prosecution announced over insulation-related deaths

Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General has announced that an insulation installation company will be charged with offences under its safety legislation due to the death of an employee.  This is the first safety prosecution related to the Government’s , failed,  job creation scheme.

According to a media statement issued late on 5 May 2010,

“QHI Installations Pty Ltd has been charged with breaching section 30 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 for allegedly failing to conduct its business or undertaking in a way that was electrically safe.

Charges have also been laid, under section 199, against company director, Christopher William McKay, and company manager, Christopher John McKay, for allegedly failing to ensure the company complied with its obligations under the Act.

The charges follow an incident on 14 October 2009 in which a 25-year-old male worker was electrocuted and his co-worker, an 18-year-old female received severe electrical burns to the left leg while installing foil insulation in the ceiling of a home at Meadowbrook, south of Brisbane.”

This prosecution revolves around the death of Matthew Fuller  and the activities of Countrywide Insulation which gained considerable media attention in Australia.  Countrywide had subcontracted the work to QHI Installation.

This prosecution is likely to be closely followed by the media, particularly after the Prime Minister was gently pressured to aplogise to Fuller’s family only last week and following a television appearance by the family.

Interestingly not the principal contractor, Countrywide Insulation, has no been included in this prosecution even though there was a clear commercial relationship between the two companies and Countrywide being the company licenced by the Government to participate in the government-funded program.

Kevin Jones

UPDATE: 6 May 2010

Many Australian newspapers have covered the decision to prosecute QHI Installations.  Some have linked the prosecution with the compensation being offered to installation companies who have been harshly treated by the Government’s decision to cancel its rebate program.

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Categories business, death, electricity, government, law, OHS, safety, small business, Uncategorized, youngTags , , ,

5 thoughts on “First prosecution announced over insulation-related deaths”

  1. Anything less than a $250,000.00 fine and incarceration for a minimum of 30 days for the managing director or proprietor of the employing company will be grossly inadequate and the government department responsible for administering the scheme is completely at fault, by not ensuring that appropriately licensed and trained operators were contracted, a complete lack of duty of care which should cost them their jobs immediately, nothing less is adequate.

    There is absolutely no reason for anyone associated with worker safety not to agree with the foregoing, in fact everyone associated with worker safety should be demanding this sort of outcome. There is no excuse or mitigating circumstance that would convince me otherwise.

    1. I do think that Australia is overdue its first imprisonment for a workplace death. It would indicate to everyone that safety should be taken seriously.

      I certainly don\’t think we\’ve heard the last of the problems from the insulation scheme. I expect tomorrow\’s media, particularly in Queensland, to run stories on this prosecution. It may be a useful indication of the legacy of outrage in the community over the death of Matthew Fuller and the others.

  2. Words simply fail me over the way all of this was set in place, the rush to get the system in place did not leave time for any one to recieve proper training, nor did it require licence checks or even licences to be in place,

    I am not able to contain the anger in regard to the number of lives lost workers injured and now the number of employees who are out of work due to the total mismanagment of this scheme.

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