Wednesday 08 June 2011

Appeal against sentence fails for Company Director

The County Court has re-imposed a conviction and fine imposed last year against the director of a Springvale construction business which failed to comply with safety improvement notices.

David Gurvich who ran Ascoli Developments (now in liquidation) appeared in the County Court last week appealing against the $17,000 fine he received in the Sunshine Magistrates Court in June last year.

Mr Gurvich as director of the company, pleaded guilty to eight breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act at construction sites in Port Melbourne and Elwood.

Three counts involved failing to comply with safety Improvement Notices and two were for failing to comply with Prohibition Notices.

He also faced one count of failing to provide safe plant and system of work and one of failing to provide adequate facilities for welfare.

In rejecting Mr Gurvich’s appeal, Judge Chettle said he ‘got off lightly’ given the penalties available to the Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Gurvich has been ordered to pay the fine at the rate of $200 a week.

The General Manager of WorkSafe’s Health and Safety Division, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the matter again demonstrated the need for company directors to play an active role in workplace safety, set standards and apply them.

“It is in the interests of workers including sub-contractors, their business and themselves to comply with WorkSafe warnings in the form of Safety Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices,” she said.

“Failing to comply with notices continues to expose workers to safety risks. Ample time to comply with Improvement Notices is provided and if they can’t be finalised by the due date, they can be reviewed or granted extra time to comply.

“Prohibition Notices are issued where there is an immediate risk to someone’s health or safety. To ignore them puts lives at risk,” she said.

The Prohibition Notices related to fall protection and electrical risks including a
temporary electrical switchboard the door of which could not be locked, there were no residual current devices and electrical leads had not been tagged and tested.

Workers at the Port Melbourne site were found to be working without adequate fall protection.
“This is an issue that WorkSafe takes very seriously as falls are among the single biggest causes of deaths and serious injuries in Victorian workplaces,” Ms Sturzenegger said.                                                                                                   
Ascoli Developments Pty. Ltd was convicted and fined $96,500 in June 2010.

Information on charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004:
Company director David Gurvich

Charges I & 2: Failure to comply with Prohibition Notices (Section 112(5);
Charges 3 to 5 - Failure to comply with Improvement Notices (Section 111(4);
Charge 6 - Failure to provide safe plant and system of work (Section 21(1)&(2)(a);
Charge 8 - Failure to provide adequate facilities for welfare (Section 21(1) &(2)(d).

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso 0478 305 640

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.