Company enters $200K enforceable undertaking after pipe fall

Wednesday, 30 August, 2023

Company enters $200K enforceable undertaking after pipe fall

Construction company Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd has committed to spend almost $200,000 to improve health and safety knowledge and outcomes in the industry after a near miss on a Melbourne building site. The company entered into an enforceable undertaking on Friday, 11 August 2023 while facing two charges of failing to ensure a workplace was safe and without risks to health. WorkSafe Victoria may reinstate the charges if the undertaking is contravened or withdrawn.

In March 2020, sprinkler pipes were being installed on the 26th floor of a residential tower under construction on Queens Street when a length of pipe detached and fell over the edge of the building, landing close to workers at street level. Multiplex was accused of failing to ensure debris nets were installed to the perimeter of the building and failing to provide information and instruction to subcontractors that no work was to be performed without debris nets in place.

As part of the undertaking, the company will produce a series of health and safety videos for WorkSafe’s website in relation to the incident and will advertise the videos in an industry magazine. The company will also fund a tertiary scholarship for a student to complete a Master of Occupational Health and Safety, including a research topic focused on falling objects in the construction industry. The estimated cost of the undertaking is $195,548.

To manage the risks associated with falling objects in the construction industry, duty holders are advised to eliminate the risk through off-site assembly of equipment that would otherwise be performed at an elevated level. The risk may also be isolated with barricades or fencing to create exclusion zones at ground level. Duty holders are also advised to implement engineering controls such as intelligent perimeter safety screens or nets, overhead protection gantries, enclosed perimeter scaffolding and restraining loose material.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said falling objects continue to cause death and serious injury in the construction industry. “Even a small object can pose a serious risk to workers and members of the public when falling from height. Control measures for falling objects are well known and employers have a duty to do everything reasonably practicable to implement them,” Beer said.

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