Company, director fined after worker injured in unprotected fall

Tuesday, 15 March, 2022

Company, director fined after worker injured in unprotected fall

Residential building company Palladian Three Pty Ltd and its Director, Sach Sackl, have been convicted and fined a total of $320,000 after a renderer was seriously injured when he fell 3.2 metres while working without fall protection. The company was found guilty of a single charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health. The company was convicted and fined $250,000. Sackl was also convicted and fined $70,000 after being found guilty of a single charge of failing, as director, to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

The renderer allegedly fell while working from an unsecured plank on the exterior of the second floor of a unit under construction at Pascoe Vale in October 2016. The renderer was taken to hospital with serious injuries including a fractured skill and brain haemorrhage, broken ribs, a punctured lung, lacerated spleen, fractured arm and a fractured ankle. WorkSafe Victoria alleged that there was a risk of serious injury or death due to falling from the plank, which was 3.2 metres above ground and had no edge or fall protection.

The court determined that it was reasonably practicable for Palladian Three and Sackl to ensure that passive fall prevention such as scaffolding was in place before work began. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the serious risks associated with working at heights are well known and there is no excuse for failing to provide safe workplaces.

“This was a blatant failure to protect workers, which sadly left one worker with significant injuries that could have easily been fatal. Already this year there have been three deaths due to workplace falls. WorkSafe won’t hesitate to prosecute employers who fail in their duty of care to maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health,” Dr Beer said.

To prevent falls from height, WorkSafe advises that employers should consider if they can eliminate the risk by doing some or all of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. If that is not possible, they should use a passive fall prevention device, such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms. Employers should also consider using a positioning system (such as a travel restraint system), a fall arrest system (such as a catch platform or safety nets), or a fixed or portable ladder. Employers should also implement administrative controls.

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