Falling death sparks $300K fine

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Falling death sparks $300K fine

A conviction and fine has been issued to a shopfitting company and its director, after one of its workers died in a fall.

The employee fell more than two metres from an unguarded mezzanine floor at a worksite at Maidstone, in Melbourne’s west.

Entire Shopfitting Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court on Wednesday, 8 May for failing to provide or maintain systems of work that were safe and failing to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement before starting high-risk construction work.

The company was fined $300,000. Company director John Paul Kenneally also pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to take reasonable care. He was fined $30,000 without conviction.

The court heard that on 19 May 2017, two Entire Shopfitting employees were directed to the mezzanine level of the worksite to start framing works on an extension for a new indoor children’s play centre.

One of the employees placed a stepladder near the edge of the mezzanine where no guarding had been put in place after the balustrade was removed.

When the 55-year-old climbed the ladder, one leg of the ladder went through a cut-out in the floor, tipping the employee over the edge of the mezzanine and onto the ground below.

He suffered serious injuries in the fall and was transported to hospital where he later died.

The court heard that Entire Shopfitting failed to implement fall protection measures and failed to implement an exclusion zone around the edge of the unguarded mezzanine to protect workers from fall risks.

WorkSafe Victoria Health and Safety Executive Director Julie Nielsen said the incident was a tragic reminder that working from height can have catastrophic consequences.

“The combination of a ladder and an unguarded void is a deadly one,” she said.

“There is no excuse for failing to protect workers from falls from height. The risks are well known and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control them.”

To prevent falls from height employers can:

  • eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction;
  • use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms;
  • use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system;
  • use a fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets;
  • use a fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/fergregory

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