Construction company fined for ignoring unsafe scaffolding warning

Wednesday, 07 February, 2018

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An ignored warning about unsafe scaffolding has led to a fine and conviction for a Ballarat construction company.

Myrti Pty Ltd was found guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court of two offences relating to a failure to provide a safe workplace and a failure to comply with a WorkSafe Victoria prohibition notice.

The company was fined $25,000 for ignoring WorkSafe directions to fix unsafe scaffolding at a Mount Clear worksite. It was also ordered to pay $2897 in costs.

The court heard that WorkSafe issued Myrti with a prohibition notice in May 2016 after an inspector observed incomplete scaffolding, with missing planks and gaps in the handrails, at a site in the Ballarat suburb of Mount Clear.

The notice required that the scaffolding not be used until the safety issues were addressed.

When a WorkSafe inspector returned to check that the notice had been complied with, he observed a person working from the same incomplete scaffolding.

The court heard that two subcontractors said they were directed by a Myrti representative to work on the roof of the construction and were not aware there was a prohibition notice in respect to the scaffolding.

WorkSafe Head of Operations and Emergency Management Adam Watson said the idea that a construction company would ignore a directive to fix a safety issue as critical as scaffolding was abhorrent.

“Falls are one of the most common causes of death and serious injury among construction workers. You don’t have to fall from a great height to be killed or suffer permanent injuries at a worksite,” Watson said.

According to WorkSafe, employers should control the risk of injury through falls from height by ensuring:

  • the installation of passive fall prevention measures such as railings and scaffolding;
  • workers perform their tasks within a safe area;
  • safety equipment is used to minimise the risk of injury if there is a fall;
  • that workplace layout, access requirements, training and experience levels and on-site conditions are taken into account when the risk of falls is assessed.

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