Company fined $40K after worker falls from roof

Monday, 01 July, 2024

Company fined $40K after worker falls from roof

Steel fabrication and installation company NJ Steel Fabrications Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $40,000 for continuing to put workers at risk on a Geelong construction site, even after a worker was seriously injured. The company pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and one charge of failing to provide information, instruction or training. The company was also ordered to pay $8375 in costs.

The company was engaged to provide structural steel works for an alfresco dining area at a retail premises in Geelong; this included the installation of steel and plastic roof sheeting. In January 2022, two workers were installing roof sheets on top of the steel structure when one of them fell through a gap approximately 3.85 metres to the ground below. He sustained serious injuries, including bleeding on the brain, a fractured pelvis, several fractured ribs, lacerations to his liver and bleeding associated with his adrenal gland.

Inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria attended and found that there was no safe work method statement (SWMS) onsite and one that had been prepared for the installation had not been reviewed and revised to address the high-risk construction work being performed. The company also failed to implement fall prevention measures and none of the workers onsite were experienced or trained in working at heights.

It was reasonably practicable for the company to install passive fall prevention devices such as guard railing and safety mesh, and to have provided training to workers on the hazards and risks of working at heights, the need for passive fall prevention devices and their implementation.

Inspectors returned to the site in February 2022 and found the company’s director and another worker on the roof without internal fall prevention measures in place. Within an hour of the inspectors leaving the site, the director was again observed working on the roof without adequate fall protection.

The court found that the company failed to control the risk of a fall from height by affixing safety mesh to the entire roof area of the steel structure. WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Sam Jenkin said the company’s disregard for the safety of workers was inexcusable.

“It is no secret that there is simply no safe way to work from heights without the appropriate training and fall prevention measures in place. It beggars belief that this company still failed to install adequate controls to ensure the site was safe even after the risk had eventuated and a worker had suffered serious injuries,” Jenkin said.

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