Company skewered with $110K over impaled worker

Monday, 04 November, 2019

Company skewered with $110K over impaled worker

A Brisbane building company has been fined $110,000 and ordered to pay $1097.95 in costs after a young worker fell and was impaled on a steel bar while constructing a house at Balmoral. Val Eco Homes was convicted in Brisbane Magistrates Court recently for failing to comply with its work safety duty as a person with management and control of a workplace, according to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHS Queensland). The company — which is under external administration and working toward ‘winding up’ — did not attend the prosecution, causing it to run in their absence. Val Eco Homes was the principal contractor and builder for the site and hired a subcontractor to help complete works such as block-laying for retaining walls.

WHS Queensland said the 21-year-old worker, who was employed by the subcontractor, slipped and fell into an unbarricaded trench while using a small earthen pathway immediately beside it, which led to the back of the property where equipment was being stored. The trench had been created to allow a block retaining wall to be erected. The court heard the worker was impaled on an uncapped vertical steel reinforcing starter bar, sustaining serious injury to his groin and lower stomach. He was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the incident and has some restrictions on his ability to work due to psychological symptoms.

During sentencing, Magistrate Bronwyn Springer said that given the narrow access to the rear of the site an alternative access method should have been found and the trench should have been fenced off — adding that the risk was foreseeable with falls from height being a well-known issue, WHS Queensland explained. The court noted that the defendant company had no history of work safety offences but that attention to safety should have been paramount across the company’s numerous job sites. The defendant made the site safe, but only after the incident. A second prosecution is underway for the subcontractor that employed the injured worker.

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