Painter fined $40K over fall from skylight

Thursday, 03 June, 2021

Painter fined $40K over fall from skylight

Painter and decorator Adam Raymond Nelson has been convicted and fined $40,000 after a subcontractor was seriously injured on a property near Strathmerton in 2018. Nelson pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the conduct of the undertaking of a self-employed person. Nelson was also ordered to pay costs of $3574.

The incident occurred while the contractor was preparing paint on the roof of one of the sheds; the contractor stepped backwards and fell through a polycarbonate skylight, landing on a metal cattle fence 5.5 metres below. The contractor sustained a lacerated spleen, two broken ribs, a punctured lung, several fractured vertebra and a compressed spinal cord.

An investigation revealed there was no guarding on the edge of the shed’s roof or mesh underneath the skylights to prevent a fall from height, and no harnesses were being used. Nelson provided investigators with a safe work method statement which addressed control measures for working at height; however, it was not site-specific and did not identify the fragile skylights as a potential risk.

WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nelson said there was no excuse for working at height without having control measures in place. Nelson urged all employers to assess each and every safety risk in the workplaces they control.

“This employer decided not to use appropriate fall prevention devices despite knowing the clear dangers, and their subcontractor is now dealing with the catastrophic consequences of that failure,” said Nelson.

To prevent falls from height, employers are urged to eliminate the risk where possible by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. Employers should also use passive fall prevention devices such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms. To further reduce the risk of falls from height, employers should use positioning systems (such as a travel restraint system), or fall arrest systems (such as a harness, catch platform or safety net). Employers are also urged to use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

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