NSW R v Sapform – A Problematic Decision

In NSW a contractor was fined $450K following the death of a sub contractor who fell when laying suspended form work and was impaled on protruding bars. Whilst I have no difficulty with the site PC being held responsible for managing work at heights at the site. I am concerned that the Contractor was held liable for failing to supervise and monitor the work of an independent contractor. In her decision the Judge held that the contractor
1 – should have reviewed, approved and supervised the SWMS used by the independent sub contractor
2 – had direct control and influence over the work being done by the independent contractor
3 – should have implemented SWMS and ensured they were adopted
4 – was responsible for identifying the risks associated with the independent contractors work
5 – could not rely on the expertise of the independent contractor to manage the risk.
Despite evidence that
1- the independent contractor was aware of expected standards and an expert in the work
3 – the risk directly arose from the independent contractors work.
The decision does not accord with the principles laid down in Baiada V The Queen and other precedent case law and because the defendant plead guilty an appeal is not an option.