Developer and Builder Prosecuted after Truck Toppled over Edge killing Driver

A British property developer and builder have been charged over an accident which led to the death of a driver on a construction site.

The 2 entities were ordered to pay a total of over £180,000 ($331,014.94) after one of their workers, Geoffrey Crow died when the 5 tonne dumper he was operating fell into a deep unguarded excavation. According to media reports, the vehicle overturned and landed directly on top of him, resulting in his death.

The court heard that Mr Crow was working at ground level whilst others were working to excavate a deep basement for a swimming pool at a new build property. The driver and the dumper went into a large excavation shortly after it had been freed from becoming stuck near the unguarded edge.

An investigation by that country’s health and safety executive discovered a number of health and safety failings going on at the site. Work on the site had been carrying on for three weeks but the following issues were discovered:

  • Lack of Edge protection – no measures were in place to prevent people or vehicles falling into the excavation;
  • No Collapse prevention – no measures to prevent collapse of the excavation sides;
  • Workers not Competent – workers on site were not familiar with operating plant machinery of the size used; and
  • Lack of Experience – workers did not have relevant experience in respect of such a large excavation.

In addition to these failings, the machine involved in the accident did not have an operational seat belt at the time of the accident. Other workers on site also admitted to not using seatbelts, obviously safety was not prioritised on the site and workers weren’t properly trained on safety.

The following excerpt from a post explains more about the case,

dumperdeath1Speaking after sentencing HSE Inspector Stephen Manley, said:

“Working with construction plant can be extremely dangerous, which is why appropriate safety measures must be in place at all times to protect workers and others on site.

In this instance, Mr Crow died as a direct consequence of the lack of controls of the risks involved in the excavation operations. There was no protection whatsoever to ensure workers, whether driving machinery or otherwise, did not fall into the deep excavation.


Mr Manley went on to explain that not only was the worker operating the dumper at risk, but everyone else on the site that day was at risk as well. This is because on a construction site the actions of one worker affect others on a site especially in this case where there were no physical controls. There was also a lack of maintenance of equipment which also posed a risk to workers. In addition to this lack of safety controls, workers were not properly trained. Most of them were not given the information they needed to do their jobs safely. Mr Manley also stated:

A number of people were at work with Mr Crow and they were all at risk of serious harm through the absence of physical controls, as well as poor maintenance of equipment and a lack of training and information provided to workers.


There is no excuse to let operations continue without having the proper health and safety measures in place especially when there is so much guidance out there both for employers and employees. One of these in Oz is the White Card Course which is vital for every construction workers to ensure site safety.


Beware of Faulty Building Products putting Workers and the Public at Risk

Popular construction industry website recently posted an article which highlighted the deteriorating quality of building products flooding the Australian market, putting not only workers but the public at risk.

According to the post, faulty construction products and materials are a real problem in Oz and are putting families and lives at risk.

A senior government minister said that poorly manufactured construction products and materials are becoming a major problem in Oz putting families and lives at risk as well as putting legitimate and compliant product suppliers at an unfair disadvantage. The shoddy products are obviously much cheaper than good quality, Australian produced products.

During a national meeting with construction industry leaders to discuss the problematic influx of sub-standard and non-conforming products onto the Australian market, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry Bob Baldwin spoke of the serious problems that are stemming from these products.

Mr Baldwin explained:

caution“These faulty products are not meeting Australian standards and causing significant risk of fire or failing the most basic of stress tests,”




Mr Baldwin went on to explain that families that renovated or built homes were entitled to be confident that the products used in the construction or renovation process were good quality and that the building was safe. Mr Baldwin said that an action strategy was needed to address these “unsafe” practices and stop them from taking place in Oz.

The following excerpt from went on to explain:

Around Australia, the issue of non-conforming products used in residential construction caught public attention in August when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recalled around 40,000 electric cables supplied by Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd after testing found that poor quality insulation coating meant the cables would degrade prematurely and that the insulation could break and expose live conductors if the cables were disturbed, resulting in possible electric shock or fires.

The article went on to discuss another incident which took place in 2012 which involved Grocon when they were forced to replace half of the glass they had used on a building project after vision panes to the glass were found to exhibit blue streaks in polarised light conditions. The replacement glass resulted in a significant financial expense. Companies can avoid the inconvenience and added expenses of replacing poor quality products by simply choosing better quality, Australian standard materials and products the first time around.

The Australian Windows Association, among other industry groups weren’t lying down to the spread of these low quality products. The group operates a ‘dob-in-a-site’ scheme which allows people to report any cases they believe a builder has installed non-compliant windows or doors. This can be done confidentially.

The Australian Procurement and Construction Council in September also implemented a procurement guide to assist designers and builders in understanding Australian regulatory and product requirements.

Housing Industry Association building spokesperson Kristin Brookfield expressed her support of the initiative. She said that much of the problem could be attributed to “a lack of coordination and oversight amongst regulatory authorities”.

Brookfield went on to explain:

“This is an increasing problem for the whole building industry, and no one wants to see a significant or catastrophic failure occur,” she said. “It’s time that all levels of government worked together to seriously address the issue.”

See more at:


Demolition Worker Killed in Sydney

A part of the construction process that is especially concerning because of the high risk associated with it is demolition. An incident that happened in Sydney recently highlights the dangers surrounding demolition work. A worker was killed during demolition when a steel pipe he was cutting struck him on the head. Apparently the pipe wasn’t well supported when it swung down and hit the man in the head, causing fatal injuries.

An article on reported on the tragic incident:

skynews.img.1200.745A family’s in mourning today after a father watched his son die when a pipe struck him on the head at an inner Sydney demolition site.

The man in his 30s was hit by the heavy steel pipe as he was cutting it above his head at a construction site in Redfern.

The man was working for his father’s demolition business and his father and brother were there at the time.

See more at:

Construction workers performing demolition work are exposed to many hazardous conditions and materials. Although a contractor should prioritise the safety of employees, there should also be heightened awareness for the safety of the general public and the property of others when demolition work is going on.

As this incident proves, even workers involved in demolition need to be trained on safety because even more so than other construction workers, these employees are exposed to a number of risks that are often life threatening.

Safety training for demolition workers and in fact all construction related fields should involve the White Card course.

Workplace health and Safety (WHS) is one of the most important issues for employers to consider but it is also the responsibility of employees. Employees in the construction sector including demolition workers, those involved in mining construction, road construction etc. must undergo safety training prior to entering a site and must apply the knowledge learnt while engaging in work on the site.

Workers must abide by the training they have been provided and follow safety procedures as set out by their employers. They must also utilise PPE as directed by employers and never work in an unsafe manner that would risk their own health and safety and that of their co-worker/s. One form of personal protective equipment which cannot be compromised is the hard hat.

Protecting one’s head is important and mandatory on every construction site, so that accidents such as the one above can be avoided. There are a number of incidents that can occur on a construction site which can injure a worker in the head such as falling objects, slips, trips and falls etc. That is why wearing a hard hat is so important and can be life-saving.

Every worker should complete the online White Card Training Course to certify that they are qualified to work on a site and aware of important safety controls such as the use of hard hats on construction sites and numerous other measures.

Each worker on site is ultimately responsible for his own safety but they also have a responsibility to ensure that he/she does not put the lives of his/her co-workers at risk.  Therefore no matter the task being undertaken, every construction worker should ensure that he is working safely and according to the safety training he/she has received. Workers should also receive white card training so that they are aware of the responsibilities of their employer and can feel free to take any matters involviing safety up using the relevant channels.


Lack of Communication leads to Near Miss on Building Site

One of the greatest enemies to workplace safety especially on construction sites is a lack of communication or ineffective communication.

Communication particularly relating to safety is a matter of life and death on construction sites which is why employers need to ensure that communication is taking place about the important issues and that this communication is being understood by workers. It is also vital that all the risks have been identified, assessed and dealt with beforehand to avoid workers paying the price.

An accident on a British construction site which resulted in the injury of worker was caused by incorrect information being given to the worker which led to him cutting a cable which was live with his angle grinder. Had it been communicated to the worker that the cable was still live, the accident could have been avoided.

The company responsible have been prosecuted by Liverpool authorities. The following excerpt from a post on explains more about what happened:

electricalexplosion1Vermont Capitol Ltd has been prosecuted after a labourer cut through a mains electricity cable after 22-year-old was told the supply had been disconnected.

He was thrown across a basement when his angle grinder made contact with the live wires on a Liverpool building in August 2013.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard (23 October 2014) the company was clearing the site prior to construction of student flats at the end of a row of Grade-II-listed Regency terraced houses.

The end terrace had been partially demolished after becoming structurally unsound, leaving the façade and basement on the building site.

The court was told the workman was instructed to remove old pipes and cables from the cellar. The mains supply was not disconnected contrary to information provided to the site manager.


The writer also highlights that there was a flash as the workman cut into the cable and he suffered injuries to his elbow and shoulder. The man was thrown across the room and lucky for him, his protective clothing prevented him from suffering burns or being more seriously injured.

Although this company seemed compliant in other areas, such as providing adequate PPE to workers, they failed to ensure the worker was aware that cable was live and was actually instructed by his supervisor to cut into the cable.

The charges against the company are as follows and highlight that written confirmation is necessary when energy work is concerned:

Vermont Capitol Ltd, of Liverpool, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £980 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 34(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 which states: “where necessary to prevent danger, energy distribution installations shall be suitably located, checked and clearly indicated.”


Following the incident a health and safety inspector, Chris Hatton was quoted as saying that the young worker was lucky to be alive, let alone to receive such minor injuries. The electric shock he suffered could have also been much worse as it came from a mains cable which was probably carrying at least 240 volts of power.

The worker was also placed in direct risk of losing his life because the  team on the site had been told all of the utilities entering the site had been disconnected and so the worker had no way of knowing he was actually cutting into a live electricity cable.

It is important that builders and developers get written confirmation that supplies have been disconnected before undertaking work with gas pipes and electricity cables.


Attention Employers: Are you Exposing your Workers to Asbestos?

A Newburn based firm has learnt the hard way that failing to identify the hazard of asbestos to its employees carries severe consequences.

The company in Western Australia was handed a $5500 fine and ordered to pay costs after it failed to recognise the presence of potentially deadly asbestos at one of its Queens Park based worksites.

The charges, which the company pleaded guilty to included failing to identify the presence of asbestos (which should have been done before work commenced on the site) and a failure to post the appropriate warning signs at areas containing asbestos.

According to reports in the media and online, the company which conducts geochemical services failed to identify the presence of asbestos on its’ Queens Park site however the discovery was made during an inspection conducted in June 2010. During the inspection asbestos was found throughout different sections of the building and later an asbestos assessment commissioned by the company confirmed this to be true.

Asbestos is often discovered on work sites particularly when renovation work, excavation, revamps etc. are being carried out because it was commonly used in the past. Although its further use has been banned for decades, people on work sites throughout Oz are often exposed when the material containing asbestos becomes worn and releases these fibres into the air, to be inhaled by workers, potentially threatening their lives.

In light of this incident, the WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch issued a reminder to all employers to ensure that they identify the presence of asbestos in worksites prior to work commencing so that employees aren’t exposed. McCulloch was quoted as saying:

 asbestos“Unfortunately there is still a lot of asbestos in WA, and our workplace safety and health laws require that the presence and location of asbestos in workplaces is identified for everyone’s safety,” Mr McCulloch said.

“In this case, although the company did make some attempt to address the asbestos issue at its other workplaces, it did not ensure that information about asbestos at its workplaces was passed along to all relevant parties, including any outside contractors who worked at their sites.


McCulloch warned other employers that although this type of prosecution was rare, and in fact this was the first one under this section of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, employers who were guilty of the same lack of action in asbestos identification and handling should expect similar consequences. All those responsible including the employer, principal contractor, property manager and/or building owner have to ensure they are doing their part to identify and deal with asbestos.

He went on to explain:

“Information about the presence and location of asbestos also needs to be made available to anyone who enters that workplace so the relevant precautions can be taken.

“Asbestos products do not pose a risk to health if they are left undisturbed in buildings, however there is a serious risk of exposure to asbestos fibres if asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, unless basic safety precautions are followed.


This issue is particularly relevant to Australian workers because we suffer from some of the highest numbers of asbestos related disease in the world.

Construction the Fifth most Dangerous Industry in Australia!

While we have always been aware that construction is a high risk industry, responsible for hundreds of injuries in Oz every year, it has now been made official by Safe Work Australia.

The construction industry is officially the fifth most dangerous industry in the nation having recorded fewer injuries than the agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, postal and warehousing industries alone.

Having cracked the top five list the construction industry also records some of the highest workers compensation claims. Last year it had the fifth highest number of fatalities.

A major killer in this industry over the past year in particular is falls from heights, followed closely by accidents involving construction vehicles and electrocution incidents.

Due to the revelation that work from heights, construction vehicles and electrical hazards are still the biggest killers on construction sites, I have decided to revisit these 3 pertinent issues which seem to be claiming so many construction workers lives.

  • Work from Heights Hazards:

Already this year we have witnessed at least a dozen deaths from falls from heights and even internationally this is the number one cause of workplace fatalities.

Unfortunately despite how common this type of incident is on construction sites and work sites in general, many workers and employers still fail to recognise the importance of guarding against falls.

Even before work begins safety hazards should be identified, including work from height hazards. The most obvious hazards include work from scaffolding, roofing, elevated work platforms and incomplete structures.

  • Construction Vehicles:

Another common hazard associated with construction is presented by construction vehicles and other heavy machinery.

Construction vehicles are invaluable to the construction process but if the risks associated with them aren’t identified and dealt with, they can cause more chaos and injuries.

A good site traffic plan should be developed and implemented in order to avoid accidents involving construction vehicles colliding with each other, with pedestrians and even with structures under construction.

The good news about this hazard is that most accidents are completely avoidable with the necessary planning, training and caution.

  • Electrical Hazards:

There are multiple  electrical hazards that are present on construction sites. One of the most common that often results in construction worker fatalities is contact with energised power lines. Both overhead and underground power lines present a hazard to construction and therefore need to be identified beforehand and addressed to avoid harm to workers.

Overhead as well as buried power lines on construction sites are particularly dangerous because an extremely high voltage runs through them. Burns and even death can result and when combined with tools and equipment coming into contact with power lines, the risk is increased.

Ultimately employers do hold most of the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace but employees also have a role to play. Employees have a duty of care to ensure that they work in a way that does not endanger their health and safety or that of their co-workers. They also have a responsibility to adhere to their safety training, training provided by the employer and general construction induction training known as The White Card.


Flash Fire in Confined Space

Often whilst engaging in construction activities we are required to work near hazards or in a hazardous environment. In fact a construction site is one of the most hazardous places to work which is why workers must be trained on construction site health and safety in order to avoid succumbing to the risks associated with these hazards.

One such hazard that commonly occurs on construction sites (whether mining construction, road construction, building construction sites etc.) is presented by a confined space.

We need to recognise and identify what constitutes a “confined space” before we are able to address the risks associated with this hazard. A confined space is classified as an enclosed or partially enclosed space that is not designed be occupied by a person.

Typically on a construction site an example of a confined space may be presented by excavations or trenches, drainage or sewerage pipes and crawl spaces.

But what makes work in confined spaces most high risk are its atmosphere, contaminants or engulfment, serious consequences could result, possibly fatal.

Risks Associated with Work in Confined Spaces

An accident which took place in San Joaquin in the USA is an example of why work in confined spaces can be so high risk and deadly to workers. Last year a flash fire occurred inside a metal tank, causing an industrial painter to sustain serious burns. The company responsible was subsequently fined for their failure to adequately address the hazard and provide the worker with a safe work environment.

The following excerpt from a post on details the incident:

On Dec. 17, 2013, the worker was spraying a flammable coating on the inside walls of a large steel tank when a fire was ignited by a portable halogen light. The 37-year-old man was rescued but spent three days in the burn unit at San Joaquin Community Hospital.

“This was a preventable accident,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. “The employer was aware that working inside the confined space was dangerous but did not take the required steps to avoid putting workers at serious risk.”


The company employing the man should have identified the risks associated with working in the space and implemented the necessary measures to guard against them. The company responsible for this incident was accused of using an unauthorised electric lamp while the painter was working in an explosive atmosphere, not having a permit to work in a confined space and not providing proper ventilation or protective equipment for the worker in the confined space.

Another problematic action or inaction identified on the employer’s part was failure to train workers for work in confined spaces.

Although this incident occurred in the United States, Australia also has strict health and safety laws pertaining to work in confined spaces and in general on construction sites.

In Australia every worker engaging in construction work of any sort must complete general construction safety training in the form of The White Card course.

This course is aimed at educating workers on the basic health and safety issues relating to construction work, of which one if working in a confined space.

But in addition to this certification that every worker must obtain, employers have to ensure that workers engaged in high risk work are adequately trained and supervised, in certain instances this involves obtaining a high risk licence, in which case being in possession of a White Card alone will not be sufficient.


Crane Accident under Investigation

A crane accident has rocked a construction site in Adelaide at the Royal Adelaide Hospital causing workers to be evacuated and work to grind to halt.

Yet another incident involving cranes has taken place, this time during the lifting of a load which became dislodged from a sling. The dislodgement caused steel being lifted to fall from the load, narrowly missing workers down below.

No one was injured during the incident but obviously the outcome could have been devastating. SafeWork SA is now investigating the incident which apparently occurred around 7:30am.

The construction union is apparently outraged at the incident because it isn’t the first to have taken place on the site, suggesting that shortcuts are being taken by site controllers.

The following excerpt from an article on explains further:

5535370-4x3-340x255There have been several crane incidents during the building work including a crane’s load hitting a work shed.

Construction union official Aaron Cartledge has accused the building consortium of taking shortcuts because the hospital project is getting behind schedule.

“There are a number of workers just getting sick and tired of how the project is going,” he said.

“We’re trying to drill down to what are some of the endemic problems.”

Mr Cartledge says it would appear the latest problem was not due to any issue with the crane itself.


While the SafeWork SA investigation is ongoing, work on the site has since resumed. Part of the steel load fell while it was being moved by a tower crane on Thursday, luckily missing the workers on the site down below.

According to a media statement by SafeWork SA, it is taking an active role in investigating the incident as it does all notifiable incidents. The investigation is centring around the cause of the accident and ensuring that corrective measures are taken as well as implementing preventative actions to ensure no further incidents of this nature take place.

The following excerpt from a post explains:

SafeWork SA is also monitoring work safety at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital construction. SafeWork SA inspectors conduct regular visits to the site which operates 24 hours a day with more than 1,000 workers. Crane safety and operations across the site is also being discussed together with representatives from Hansen Yuncken, Leighton Contractors, CFMEU, CEPU, crews and other site personnels.


While cranes are powerful tools and are often irreplaceable on construction sites, if not used carefully they can be extremely dangerous, not only to workers on the site, crane operators and visitors to the work site but also to pedestrians and cars in adjacent areas as loads don’t always fall directly to the construction site below, but parts of the load can also reach outside of the site and injure or even kill innocent passers-by. Most crane fatalities take place when workers are crushed by the crane of its loads, usually during load shifts, machine malfunctions or operator error.

Construction Education and Training

A question that health and safety training experts suggest employers ask is whether they educate their staff or simply provide training?

At first glance they may seem like the same thing but in fact educating workers on safety and simply providing them with safety training are very different and the effectiveness of your efforts will depend on whether they are “educated” or simply “trained”?

Experts in the health and safety arena will tell you training isn’t just about providing workers with written material and expecting them to memorise it. Experience has taught us that people learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process.

And as employers its’ important to recognise that getting the safety message across is more important than simply fulfilling health and safety legislation, it is a matter of productivity and more importantly a matter of life and death.

So what is the most effective way of training workers on safety?

One way that has proven effective and is growing in popularity globally not just in Australia is online training.

In my opinion one reason why online safety training is gaining in popularity is because of its effectiveness in getting the message across. Whereas traditional training in a classroom environment or simply providing workers with written material doesn’t motivate them to get involved and interact, online training ensures that workers are actively engaged in the training program.

One program that has been delivered effectively and cost efficiently online is the general construction induction course which has been mandated for all construction workers by the federal government.

This safety induction course is known as The White Card course and can be completed online rather than having to attend a traditional educational institute. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, the most popular being:

  1. Saving time:  Registration and completion of the course from the comfort of the student’s home means that they don’t have to stand in long queues to register or travel to classes to complete the course. The majority of the course is completed online and a small part of the assessments are done over the phone. This ensures that students are actively engaged in the learning process which experts have discovered is the best way to learn and retain the information learned.
  2. Saving money: Most students entering the construction industry are eager to get to work and start earning. Our short course can be completed quickly and save learners money on registration fees and travel costs. It also saves those who are working and studying at the same time because they don’t have to take time off work. The course can be completed at night, during lunch breaks or whenever students have a minute or two to spare. The cost of the online course is nominal compared to other training courses.
  3. Getting actively involved rather than learning passively. Safety training is one of those topics that you need to retain in order for it to be effective. What would be the point of completing the course and immediately forgetting everything you learn? Your health and safety literally depends on your ability to retain the information relayed by the course, which is much more likely if you are actively completing the assessments and being involved in the learning process. Our user friendly interface is also state of the art and designed to hold your attention while relaying the safety information necessary to stay safe on the construction site.



White Card Update: Addressing Bullying From Senior Staff

Employers should understand the importance of addressing bullying in the workplace but we need to recognise that bullying doesn’t always occur horizontally, between employees or colleagues, bullying can also occur from the top down.

A recent case which took place at Mount Thorley is an example of bullying from senior staff down to lower level employees.

Mine workers at the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine have alleged that they were bullied and harassed by senior staff at the mine and have lodged complaints against the supervisors in production and maintenance areas of the mine.

The CFMEU has lodged complaints on behalf of the 8 employees who claim that their supervisors at the mind had bullied them. The complaints have been lodged at the NSW Department of Trade and Investment mine safety office.

The CFMEUs union district president Peter Jordan reiterated that no workers should ever be bullied in the workplace and it is important that we take all bullying and harassment complaints seriously but even more so when it comes from eight separate employees within a single workplace.

Jordan explained that it was unusual for complaints to be lodged against supervisors from so many workers at the mine, usually individual members would lodge complaints against other workers at other mines.

A spokesperson from Mount Thorley Warkworth recently said in a statement:

Mount Thorley Warkworth mine workers claim bullying   Newcastle Herald“Mine safety operation inspectors are investigating under the Work Health and Safety Act,” the spokesman said.

“They have recommended that the company form a panel to further investigate the allegations, resolve the issue and report back to the inspectors.”



A panel consisting of Rio Tinto representatives and a CFMEU mine site check inspector will be considering the case within the next few weeks. According to a spokesperson from the mine, the company had clear standards which upheld the rights of all employees but other companies can save themselves this kind of problem by educating employees including management about bullying and monitoring the situation on worksites regularly. Employers should never wait until the situation gets out of hand before addressing the problem, especially when there are a number of workers making the same complaints. Ignoring even one complaint is bad enough, but when it takes 8 workers lodging complaints for action to be taken, the situation is out of hand.

Not only do allegations such as this one affect the corporate image of a company, it affects productivity and as research has proven bullying costs companies in Oz billions of dollars every year.

A survey conducted by Drake International earlier this year which questioned 800 employees revealed that half of them had witnessed bullying in the workplace and at least 25 per cent had actually been victims of bullying themselves. Much of this bullying occurs from the top down and employers have a financial incentive to address this type of behaviour before it affects workplace productivity and the company’s bottom line.