Fines over edge protection prompt falls warning
Construction company Morago Nominees (trading as Gavin Constructions) was fined $4000 and the subcontract bricklaying company Airdas (trading as Tyrone Bricklaying) was fined $2000 in the Armadale Magistrates Court in Western Australia for failing to provide edge protection on a building site.
In 2008, two WorkSafe inspectors visited a site where a community centre was being built for the City of Gosnells and found that there were several areas on the first floor of the building that did not have the required edge protection, putting workers at risk of falls of between 2.9 and 3.1 m.
Morago Nominees had previously been issued with five improvement notices and three prohibition notices between December 2007 and February 2008, all relating to the risk of falls.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said that falls were one of the most significant causes of workplace death in the construction industry: “Seven Western Australian workers have died over the past 15 months as a result of falls. An average of a further 1295 are injured each year, many seriously and permanently.
“Plenty of information is readily available on the prevention of falls, and I would expect building companies and bricklayers to be acutely aware of the need to prevent falls. In particular, there was an area on this site where workers were pushing wheelbarrows up a ramp with no edge protection. Around 3 m below them was the concrete ground floor slab onto which they could have fallen.
“In addition, Morago nominees had already been issued with eight notices for offences relating to a lack of fall protection, and obviously had not got the message. We hope the fact that they have been prosecuted will finally get the message through.
“This case also illustrates the value of WorkSafe’s proactive inspection work, as the companies were pulled up on their shoddy work practices before anyone was injured or killed.
“A code of practice on fall prevention has existed in WA for the past 19 years, with the original code being initiated in response to the number of fatalities being recorded in the construction industry at that time.
“The current code is comprehensive - providing information on the identification of common fall hazards and the use of fall restraint and fall arrest equipment - and I urge all employers with workplaces that may contain fall hazards to ensure copies of the code are readily available at their workplaces.”
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