NSCA Foundation

Victorian cleaning company fined $30,000 after fall

Thursday, 23 January, 2020

Victorian cleaning company fined $30,000 after fall

Commercial kitchen cleaning company Parkton Enterprises has pleaded guilty in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court to failing to control the risk of a fall from height, and failing to provide instruction and training on working at height. The company was convicted, fined $30,000 and ordered to pay costs of $3367.

The incident occurred in October 2018, when a worker, tasked with cleaning extraction fans on the roof of a Barrabool Hills church, fell 5.5 m to the ground, sustaining a crushed lower vertebra, a broken leg and a dislocated shoulder. Two workers were working on the roof, and had received instructions about the job via text from a Parkton supervisor.

One of the workers set up a ladder against a metal awning that wrapped around the church, instead of using the designated building ladder access point, and climbed the ladder without a safety harness. The fall occurred as the worker was walking along the awning when it gave way. The worker was treated on the scene, then taken to hospital. WorkSafe Victoria investigations indicated that the workers had not been trained in working at heights and did not receive supervision by anyone who had received training. No Safe Work Method Statement had been prepared for the task.

“Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injury in Victorian workplaces, and both the risks and measures that should be used to control them are well known. WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to ensure their workers are properly trained and appropriate safety measures are in place,” said Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director of Health and Safety.

Employers are urged to prevent falls by eliminating the risk where practicable by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction. Employers must use a passive fall prevention device — such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guard rails, safety mesh or elevated work platforms — to prevent falls from height. A positioning system, such as a travel restraint system, could also ensure that employees work within a safe area. Fall arrest systems, such as harnesses, catch platforms or safety nets, could also reduce risk of injury if a fall does occur. Employers are also urged to use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls, to reduce risk of falls.

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

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