Inquest into the death of Christopher William Wagg

Background:

In August 2009, a contractor employed by Russell Allport and Co (Russell Allport) was preparing to use an elevated work platform (EWP) when he realised that it had engine problems.  He sought and was delivered a replacement by an employee of Tasmanian Access Systems Pty Ltd (Access Systems), Christopher William Wagg.

The contractor then began operating the EWP without conducting a pre-start check and noticed a number of faults, including a faulty emergency stop and the fact that it accelerated too quickly.

After the contractor exited the EWP, Wagg got into the basket to investigate the faults.  The EWP then accelerated towards an overhead walkway crushing and killing him.

Outcome:

Access Systems was charged and fined $50,000 (reduced to $40,000 on appeal) for breaching Tasmania’s now repealed WHS Act, in failing to maintain the EWP, but not for causing Wagg’s death.

The Coroner found that the EWP had numerous defects, that there were “glaring omissions” in the EWP’s log book and that the major inspection required by the relevant Standard were not undertaken.

The Coroner found that three people contributed to the fatal incident; the deceased worker, the Russell Allport contractor and the Access Systems employee responsible for inspecting and maintaining the EWP.

The Coroner made a number of recommendations regarding the systems for inspecting plant and ensuring unsafe plant is not in service, noting that:

  • WorkSafe Tasmania does not have in place any specific ongoing audit or reporting requirements to ensure compliance with regulation 213 with respect to unregistered plant;
  • EWP’s are not required to be registered with WorkSafe Tasmania under the new WHS Regulations;
  • WorkSafe Tasmania has no current knowledge of the owners and location of unregistered plant.