An incident which occurred recently is a reminder to companies in the building industry that their actions or inaction can result in serious even bankrupting financial consequences. A crane hire company and it’s director received a fine totalling $71,000 after one young worker was left unsupervised and unprotected for work from a height when he fell 3.3m from a roof.
This incident has resulted in the prosecution of six entities, all of whom had a part to play in the safety of the workers at the site, whether they were actually in direct control of the workplace or not.
The issue of young people being left unsupervised was again raised as the company left the young worker to engage in activities on a roof, unsupervised and without any fall protection.
This post from WAtoday.com.au explains further:
A crane hire company and its director have been fined a total of $71,000 after a worker suffered serious head and neck injuries when he fell through a roof.
Terry’s Crane Hire and director Terrence Ronald Brown pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court last week to failing to provide a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to a contractor.
In August 2010, the Mallon Company engaged a company called Debri to perform re-roofing work on a commercial property and Terry’s to provide a crane.
A crane operator employed by Terry’s and a 19-year-old independent contractor used a crane to remove packs of asbestos sheeting and land packs of new metal sheets on the roof.
The 19-year-old accessed the roof to guide the crane operator and was warned by the Debri employees to be aware of the hazardous rusty tin sheets and damaged polycarbonate.
He walked across the damaged sheets and stepped onto the end of one of the polycarbonate sheets while trying to remove the slings from a pack of metal sheets.
The sheet collapsed and he fell to the cement floor, about 3.3 metres below.
At the time, safety mesh to prevent falls was installed below the roof, but did not continue to the frontage area, although there were plans to install it after the asbestos was removed.
The court found that the company did not ensure that the 19 year old worker was informed of the risks beforehand and neither was he provided with the appropriate supervision. The company was fined $51,000 and Brown was fined $20,000 as well as ordered to pay $1600 in court costs.
This court case should serve as a reminder that contractors must ensure that any subcontractors they send out to the jobs are either adequately trained or fully informed of the risks at specific workplaces.
Employers need to keep in mind that falls are one of the greatest causes of workplace deaths. In the last four years 16 workers in Western Australia have died from falls yet some employers are still ignoring the risks. Many workers are being seriously and permanently injured due to falls despite the fact that most fall injuries are preventable.