Boss jailed after worker impaled on bar at construction site

A building company has been fined $300,000 and its director sentenced to four months’ jail after a worker was impaled on an uncapped reo starter bar.


Apr 12, 2022, updated Apr 12, 2022

A block-laying business, Illawarra Enterprises (Qld) Pty Ltd, and director Michael Peter Walsh both pleaded not guilty.

They were sentenced in the Brisbane District Court recently under Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to comply with their safety duties, and without reasonable excuse, engaged in conduct that exposed individuals to risk of death or serious injury and was reckless as to the risk to the individual. 

The incident occurred in 2018 at a house construction site at Balmoral where the company was building block retaining walls.

The court heard Walsh had previously been warned of the danger of a deep trench on the site and the vertical uncapped reo starter bar. 

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A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found Walsh took no action and disregarded the worker’s concerns. Just minutes later, another worker was travelling up the ramp, fell into the trench and was impaled on the bar.

Emergency services were called, and he was transported to hospital where the bar had to be surgically removed.

In sentencing, Judge Paul Smith referred to the worker having suffered significant pain and suffering in horrific circumstances by being impaled on the vertical steel bar, observing that thankfully he had not sustained permanent injury. 


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