Construction breaches cause $570,000 silver lining for industry education

Wednesday, 13 May, 2015 | Supplied by: WorkSafe Victoria

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Two construction companies have each entered into an enforceable undertaking to spend a total of $570,000 on industry-wide education material and training programs after WorkSafe issued charges against the companies following workplace incidents in Victoria in 2013.

WorkSafe can accept an enforceable undertaking as an alternative to prosecution if it believes a company’s commitments offer tangible benefits for workplace health and safety that are above and beyond a penalty likely to be imposed by a court.

All charges against the companies were withdrawn on 30 April.

As part of its enforceable undertaking, civil contractor Geotech Pty Ltd will spend more than $370,000 and Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd will spend $201,000 for practical resources specifically relating to the incidents.

Two Geotech employees suffered injuries on 30 January 2013 when an earth and rock wall collapsed while they were laying shotcrete.

On 4 June 2013, a 3.9 m metal rod acting as a temporary handrail fell 12 m into an exclusion zone where workers were operating at a construction site run by Hansen Yuncken. No-one was injured during the incident.

Executive Director of Health and Safety Len Neist said enforceable undertakings provided the opportunity to deliver real health and safety benefits to workers, industry and the community as a whole.

“The commitments made by Geotech and Hansen Yuncken are great examples of how enforceable undertakings can be used to improve safety standards for Victorian workers,” Neist said.

Both companies are expected to collaborate with industry experts and WorkSafe to ensure industry standards are met.

Geotech will develop guidance material around the safe construction of shotcrete retaining walls and a training course to educate project managers, site managers and supervisors, while Hansen Yuncken will produce guidance material written specifically for midrise (4- to 10-storey) multiresidential structures.

“This is an excellent outcome for workplace safety,” Neist added.

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