Company fined $45K after woman falls into skip bin

Wednesday, 17 February, 2021

Company fined $45K after woman falls into skip bin

Gippsland tip operator Beyond Zero Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $45,000 for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety, after an incident in which a woman fell 2.5 metres into a skip bin. The company was also ordered to pay $1875 in costs.

The incident occurred in November 2018, when a woman was unloading material from the back of a ute. She slipped and fell between two guard rails as she was climbing down from the vehicle’s tray and landed on the bottom of a skip bin, fracturing several ribs and injuring her spine.

The skip bins at the company’s Kilmany Resource Centre were located beneath elevated concrete platforms where users could park their vehicles and drop waste into the bins. A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that guard rails had been moved to widen the gap between them at the edge of the platform, leaving enough space for a person to fall through. There was also no instruction directing users how to dispose of waste safely.

To prevent falls from height, WorkSafe Victoria urges employers to eliminate the risk by doing some or all of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. Using passive fall prevention devices such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms could also reduce the risk of falls from height.

WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the injured woman was lucky to be alive after her fall, and noted that falls from height are one of the biggest causes of injury and death in Victorian workplaces.

“Every employer must consider the dangers of unguarded edges or steep drops and take every reasonable step to reduce risks to the health and safety of workers and the public,” Nielsen said.

Employers are also encouraged to use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area. Using a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, could also reduce the risk of injuries in the event of a fall. Employers should also consider using a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

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