The ongoing financial impact of an Occupational Health and Safety Act conviction has helped a leading Warrnambool district construction company maintain its more than 50-year clean record.
Rodger Constructions pleaded guilty to two breaches of the OH&S Act in the Warrnambool Magistrate Court during November last year for failing to provide a safe workplace and was fined $25,000 with $6642 costs.
The Office Of Public Prosecutions appealed against the leniency of a non-conviction and the fine imposed.
Rodger Constructions managing director Jason Rodger told Judge Paul Higham in the Warrnambool County Court on Friday that winning work tenders was no longer about just providing the lowest quote.
He said that up to 20 per cent of algorithms used in determining tenders now related to OH&S and having a conviction recorded could have serious consequences for the company.
Mr Rodger said that he had previously missed out on tender work, despite having the lowest quote, after not providing detailed company financial information as requested.
He said the algorithms were how many tenders were awarded and one of the regular questions was whether a company had an OH&S conviction.
On February 15, 2018, a Rodger employee was working on a then new subdivision in Warrnambool's Younger Street when he fell into an unshielded 2.4 metre trench after slipping on sand.
Ambulance, State Emergency Service volunteers and the Warrnambool Fire Brigade officers assisted in the two-hour rescue of the worker in his 30s.
He suffered minor injuries when he fell hitting his back, head and hip and spent three days in hospital.
A decision was made to not use trench shields due to the likelihood of electrocution from overhead power lines.
Powercor had inspected the site prior to the incident and indicated that trench shields should not be used and a mobile crane was necessary to support power lines located directly above the work site.
Judge Higham said companies had a duty of responsibility to provide safe workplaces for employees which should never be compromised due to cost, time constraints or expediency.
He said Mr Rodger, who he described as an honest and credible witness, was agitated and did not know if his company would be excluded from further tenders if convicted.
The judge said he had to have regard to the reputation and financial impact of a conviction on the regional firm with a clean record which employed 85 people.
He said recording a conviction could have an impact on the future prospects of the company.
"I do regard this matter as serious," Judge Higham said in relation to the trench incident.
He imposed an extra $30,000 fine, taking the total fine to $55,000.
Mr Rodger said he had been eager to avoid a conviction and was willing to accept the additional fine.
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