A young man had 10 surgeries to resolve injuries suffered at his workplace, with the company Ollis Construction fined in court $75,000.
A young man had 10 surgeries to resolve injuries suffered at his workplace, with the company Ollis Construction fined in court $75,000.

$75k fine after circular saw incident

A SOUTHEAST Queensland company has been fined for failing in its duty to protect a young apprentice concreter received "significant lifelong injuries" while using an unsecured circular saw.

Bodhii George Dunlop, then 19, had only been working for Ollis Construction for three months when he was asked by Richard Ollis to buy a circular saw and rip cut lengths of radiata pine in half lengthwise.

Mr Dunlop put the lengths of timber between two utilities, but did not secure or clamp the timber and while he was cutting the second piece it started to move.

He reached down to grab the timber with his left hand, the saw blade grabbed and jumped and the moving blade cut across Mr Dunlop's left palm, from his pinky finger to the base of his thumb.

Mr Dunlop suffered a deep cut across his palm, involving nerves and bones in his hand and since the accident on June 1, 2017 he has had 10 surgical procedures on his hand.

Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard that Dunlop has since developed post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and has been on worker's compensation since the accident.

Ollis Construction pleaded guilty to a charge that it failed to comply with its duty under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.

A Toowoomba acting magistrate said it was a serious dereliction of Ollis Construction's duty to ensure Mr Dunlop's workplace health and safety.

"It resulted in a young man suffering significant lifelong injuries which will adversely and severely impact on his enjoyment of the amenities of life and his earning capacity,'' the magistrate said.

The court heard Mr Dunlop did not receive specific instructions about operation of the new circular saw and he was not supervised when he used it.

At the start of his employment he had been given a brief verbal induction and had completed a general safety induction course while at TAFE years earlier.

"Here, a young inexperienced worker … was asked to use a circular saw which he had never used before,'' a magistrate said.

The risk of injury could have been removed entirely if Mr Ollis had instructed Mr Dunlop to buy pre-cut timbers.

The risks could have been lessened or minimised by Mr Ollis instructing the apprentice in the use of sawhorses and clamps and safe operation of the saw under his supervision, the magistrate said.

"Instructing and supervising him was neither complex, burdensome nor mildly inconvenient,'' the magistrate said.

"Sawhorses were available on site and if not, could be readily obtained. Likewise with respect to clamps.''

The magistrate said it was clear the employer had not complied with its statutory duties, codes of practice or an instruction manual

On top of the $75,000 fine, Ollis Construction, which has since taken steps to address workplace safety, was ordered to pay $1095.80 in professional costs and court filing fees.

The maximum penalty for the offence was $1.5 million.