Developer fined $75K for multiple safety breaches

Thursday, 26 August, 2021

Developer fined $75K for multiple safety breaches

Melbourne developer Pacific Land Consolidated Pty Ltd has been convicted and ordered to pay fines totalling $75,000 for repeatedly failing to address safety issues at a Doncaster building site. The company was convicted of 16 breaches of the occupational health and safety act. The company was convicted and fined a total of $21,000 for seven charges of failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risk to health, and fined a further combined $36,000 for six charges of failing to comply with improvement notices. Pacific Land Consolidated was also convicted and fined $12,000 for two charges of failing to produce documents and convicted and fined $6000 for one charge of refusing or failing to comply with a requirement to produce documents to an inspection.

Between April 2018 and February 2019, WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visited the townhouse development 12 times, identifying a number of health and safety risks and issuing 18 improvement notices. The company did not comply with eight of those notices and failed on seven occasions to control the risks associated with working at heights above two metres.

Inspectors found that workers were using a makeshift work platform of trestles and aluminium planks while working on a first floor balcony, which had an unprotected edge. Sub-contractors were working on the first floor roof, accessing materials positioned about 50 cm from the unprotected roof edge. Further safety breaches included a plumber working on the second floor roof with no fall protection in place; a sub-contractor installing roofing sheets on the first floor required to work near unprotected edges; and workers using stairs to access the second floor with no guardrails around the stairs or second floor landing.

A WorkSafe investigation was launched in February 2019, during which the company failed to comply with requirements to provide documents and information. WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said the case showed a shocking disregard for workplace health and safety. “The number of safety breaches at this workplace is just staggering and the company’s failure to address many of the issues shows a complete disregard for workers' health and safety. This case highlights that WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action, even when no incident has occurred, to ensure duty holders are doing everything they can to keep workers safe,” Keen said.

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. Passive fall prevention devices, such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms, should also be used. Use of a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, or a fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets, can also help prevent falls from height. Employers should also use fixed or portable ladders, or implement administrative controls.

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