Two companies and one company director have learnt a serious lesson after being fined $147,000 following an accident which left an electrician with serious injuries.
Falling has been identified as the number one cause of injuries on work sites in Australia and this accident highlights why.
In addition to the fines, the company was also ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after an accident involving a worker who fell 3.4 metres to the ground through a hole.
The incident happened when construction was being conducted at a residential building work site in Western Sydney.
The 2 companies involved were MRD Future Homes (AUST) Pty Ltd (MRD) and J&M Costa Enterprises Pty Ltd (J & M Costa), a small construction firm and an electrical company.
The first company was contracted to build 3 two storey townhouses under the same roof span in Canley Heights in Western Sydney and subcontracted the second company to complete electrical work at the site.
The fateful incident happened in December 2009 when the construction on the building was almost completed.
A 22 year old electrician was working inside one of the townhouses and fell through an opening on the first floor to the concrete floor below. The young worker suffered severe head injuries as well as multiple brain hemorrhages. He also sustained a fracture to the left collarbone and several spinal fractures.
Following an investigation into the incident, WorkCover issued the companies with charges for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 because it revealed that at the townhouse the open stairwell opening was devoid of any fall protection, which could have prevented the accident.
WorkCover NSW had this to say on their website:
• MRD pleaded guilty, was fined $70,000, and ordered to pay WorkCover legal costs.
• MRD’s director pleaded guilty, was fined $7000 , and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs
• J & M Costa pleaded guilty, was fined $70,000, and ordered to pay WorkCover legal costs.
WorkCover NSW’s acting General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said given the circumstances, any fall through the stairwell opening was likely to be very serious, and the risk should have been better managed.
“There was a clear lack of safety in this instance. Had there been adequate safety measures in place to stop someone from accidentally falling through this opening, these serious injuries would probably never have happened.
“It’s even more serious that these safety measures are very simple. There was no fall protection, that is, there was no handrail, void platform or other kind of barrier.”
This incident is an example of the consequences for not maintaining the proper safety protocols. These companies neglect of safety may have resulted in a financial loss for them however the young worker paid an even greater price. Any person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks such as falls.