Vic roofing company fined over serious fall injury

Tuesday, 14 June, 2022

Vic roofing company fined over serious fall injury

Victorian roofing company CSR Building Products Ltd, trading as Monier Roofing, has been fined $20,000 after a fall at a residential construction site in Mount Duneed. The company pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health. The company was sentenced without conviction, and was also ordered to pay costs of $4950.

The incident occurred in May 2018, when an employee of the contractor was on the roof of a single-storey site nailing roof battens in place. It is believed the employee stepped on an unsecured batten, causing him to fall more than three metres onto a concrete slab below, suffering serious injuries. Inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria attended the site and found that the method used to install the battens was to rest each batten against a tack nail, only nailing them in once all the trusses were in place. This was at odds with a safe work method statement (SWMS) prepared for the work, which stipulated that, to prevent falls, a progressive battening technique should be used to provide a secure platform for workers as they made their way up to the roofline. The SWMS did not provide details on how to undertake progressive battening.

The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for the company to provide a SWMS for the roofing work, which included detailed instructions on the installation of roof battens. On 17 March 2020, the contractor who employed the worker pleaded guilty to not working in accordance with the SWMS and was, without conviction, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5751.59.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the dangers of falls from heights are well known and WorkSafe would not hesitate to prosecute any employer who put their workers’ health at risk through unsafe work practices. “Even falls from relatively low heights can leave people with permanent, debilitating injuries. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to keep your workplace safe, including protecting your workers by ensuring safe systems of work are being followed,” said Dr Beer.

To prevent falls from height, WorkSafe advises employers to eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. Employers should also use a passive fall prevention device (such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms), or 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 net, can also limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall. Employers should also use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

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