Company pleads guilty over insulation installer death

In June 2010, Arrow Property Maintenance Pty Ltd was charged with failing to conduct its business or undertaking in a way that was electrically safe, after, accoridng to one media report:

“[A] 16-year-old boy was electrocuted while installing fibreglass insulation in the ceiling of a home at Stanwell, west of Rockhampton, on November 18, 2009.”

On 14 September 2010, Queensland Industrial Magistrate John McGrath heard the company plead guilty.  A Queensland Government media release (yet to appear online) states that

  • A pre-existing defect was present in the ceiling cavity. A screw had penetrated a cable and caused parts of the house, including a ceiling batten, to be live. This defect was present for at least 10 years.
  • Arrow Property Maintenance Pty Ltd allowed work to proceed without the house, or any parts, being isolated or de-energised.
  • Only minimal induction or training was given to workers.
  • There were no specific or documented procedures in place for installation of insulation.
  • The deceased worker was permitted to use a conductive, aluminium pole to position or place insulation batts.
  • No training was provided to workers in relation to first aid for electric shock.
  • In addition to electrical issues facing the workers, they were positioned on the roof some 4.8 metres above the ground, without any consideration as to fall protection.
  • There were no procedures in place for working at height

This investigation and case is one of many that are being undertaken in relation to the now-cancelled Federal Government scheme for home insulation installation.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

4 thoughts on “Company pleads guilty over insulation installer death”

  1. This is the reality our safety professionals need to keep in mind when approaching their various areas of speciality. Prevention, prevention, prevention, is without doubt the mantra that should be on everyone\’s lips.

    By far the larger number of workplace injuries are preventable and should not be classified as accidents.

  2. Every part of this death was very preventable, every thing that could go wrong went wrong, there is no excuse for playing with the safety of any life, there can never be any reason put forward to cover this -and other- waste of precious life.

    I can not say that it was greed or haste or ignorance or a combination of all, what I do know is that a young boy is dead at the age of 16.
    The other thing I can say is that I know what it is like to bury a 16 year old.
    My brother died in an industrial accident in \’69 he was aged 16yrs 26days.
    My brother died as the result of poor judgement on my parents part -they owned the transport company we all worked for-
    I remember the feeling of sheer grief when I tried to come to terms with what was for me the greatest loss I had to face -I was not quite 15- and the sheer anguish of knowing my brother would never walk back in to my life.

    I feel for the family of the young teenager, I feel for the family who owned the house where this senseless death happened and on a human level I feel for the employer.
    What I can not find it in myself to do is forgive any of the parties who simply allowed this young teenager to go to work in such a situation.

    41 years later I still ache to have my brother returned to me.

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