Construction companies can learn a lesson from an incident which occurred in Victoria, costing a construction firm $80,000 in fines after an excavation collapse which caused life-threatening injuries to a young apprentice plumber.

The company pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court for failing to provide a workplace that was without risks to health. They were also ordered to pay costs of $3,505.

The incident occurred as the apprentice and 2 other contractors were installing pump tanks at the site about 2 metres away from the excavated basement wall. The collapse left the apprentice partially engulfed and the 17 year old suffered collapsed lungs, 12 broken ribs, a fractured sternum and shoulder and damage to his pancreas. He had only been on the job for 18 days.

A geotechnical report had identified the site as at high risk of abnormal moisture conditions and advised that attention be paid to changes in soil moisture. Before the collapse, the site received 17mm of rainfall.

The court heard that the company, being aware of the risks should have supervised the contractors and prevented access to the site until soil conditions were properly assessed and the wall stabilised.  Find out more

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