Fatal fall leads to $850K fine for construction company

Wednesday, 05 August, 2020

Fatal fall leads to $850K fine for construction company

Seascape Constructions, a residential construction company, has been convicted and fined $850,000 after a 2017 incident in which a carpenter fell to his death on a building site in Kalkallo, in Melbourne’s north. The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to prepare and conduct work in accordance with a safe work method statement (SWMS).

Seascape engaged the carpenter and a handyman via Gumtree to work at the site and to lay flooring. The incident occurred as the carpenter was lowering a compressed air nail gun by its air hose and fell from an unprotected edge, landing on a concrete slab about 3.1 metres below. The 68-year-old died of head injuries at the scene. It was revealed that the workers were not provided with a SWMS before commencing the high-risk construction work or while performing the work, and that no safety procedures or safe working methods were discussed.

Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety, said all workers must be appropriately trained, equipped and supervised to safely perform their jobs.

“Falls from height are a well-recognised safety hazard and are among the biggest killers of Victorian workers. This death is a tragic reminder that WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any employer who fails to do all they can to protect their workers’ health and safety,” said Nielsen.

To prevent falls from height, employers are urged to eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. The use of passive fall prevention devices, such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms, is also encouraged. A positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, could help ensure employees work within a safe area, while a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety net, could reduce the risk of injuries in the event of a fall. Employers should also use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Aisyaqilumar

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