Construction company fined $650K for deadly fall

Tuesday, 26 November, 2019

Construction company fined $650K for deadly fall

A construction company has been convicted and fined $650,000 after its failure to maintain a safe working environment or provide instruction led a labourer to fall to his death. Concorp Group was found guilty of two offences under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act by a County Court jury, following its failure to warn workers about an unsafe platform or put safety measures in place to mitigate the risk of fall, according to WorkSafe Victoria. The wooden platform — situated in an open shaft on the fourth floor of a multi-level apartment complex — was being used by the 54-year-old worker when it overturned, causing him to fall 12 metres to the ground. He died onsite a short time later, WorkSafe Victoria said.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found the cantilevered platform had previously been boarded up on orders of a supervisor amid concerns over a lack of fall protection. The court heard no other employees were warned about the platform before the plywood blocking its entrance was removed and the worker entered the shaft to undertake drilling. An independent engineer later found the likelihood of a fall occurring was almost inevitable, WorkSafe Victoria said.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said basic safety failures had caused the tragic loss of a man’s life. “This death could have easily been avoided if other workers had been warned about the unsafe platform, or if the company had made readily available and cheap modifications to reduce the risk of a fall,” Nielsen said. “Falls from height are one of the biggest killers of Victorian workers and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control the associated risks,” she said.

To prevent similar incidents, WorkSafe Victoria suggested employers: ensure a competent person produces a formwork design capable of supporting the expected dynamic and static loads and have systems in place to formally sign off a formwork deck as structurally sound, complete and safe for other trade workers to use as a work platform. Employers should also provide employees undertaking construction work with site-specific training — including the onsite risks associated with formwork decks — and ensure high-risk construction work is not performed unless a safe work method statement is prepared and followed and use a fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.

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