In the appeal case of Steel Construct Australia Pty Ltd & Anor v Guilfoyle  QDC 124 (25 June 2021), a Workfast Marketplace labour-hire worker was engaged by Steel Construct Australia (SCA) to install a flooring system on a Construction site. The worker had fallen three metres through a void in the roofing deck, resulting in serious spinal injuries.
At first instance, it was determined that:
- the safe work method statements (SWMS) adopted by the host employer failed to account for the risk of penetrations and voids; and
- there were inadequate controls to address these risks as workers were using unsecured flooring offcuts as coverings (these materials were weak and could not withstand any fall impact).
This resulted in fines of $90,000 for the company and fines of $8000 for the Director.
This case was appealed on two grounds:
- They did not owe a duty of care to the worker because work was directed and influenced by Ultrafloor (the project manager of the site).
- They claimed they did not have the expertise to know how to minimise the risk of falls, and needed to rely on the expertise of other companies.
Both arguments failed dismally! The SWMS detailed that SCA was responsible for the implementation and supervision of the SWMS for their part of the project, and their supervisor was able to amend the SWMS with the correct controls after the incident evidencing sufficient knowledge and expertise. The appeal case failed and they were responsible for costs of $2100.