Keeping construction sites safe is a complex and indepth task which takes action from the employer and workers alike. The recent fine handed down to a construction company after the death of one of its workers, is proof that employers cannot get away with sub-par safety standards.
The firm was handed down a huge fine and the company’s director and site manager were also personally fined.
Authorities pointed out that the incident should serve as a reminder that its crucial for companies and directors to have plans and procedures in place when it comes to risks on construction sites.
Case in Question
In this particular case a bricklayer, who was one of between 15-20 people on the worksite fell through an unguarded penetration on the second flood of the building site.
The judge found that there were 4 workers who would have been exposed to the same risk as the deceased worker in the week leading up to the incident.
Although both the company and director failed to accept responsibility for the failures that led to the fall and subsequently the workers’ death, they were handed fines of $425,000 and $85,000 respectively. The fine was the second biggest in the state’s history and resulted in the company going out of business.
A number of issues led to the fatality, despite the company having a site safety management plan in place. They also had an OHSE Management Plan which did not account for the risk of a worker falling through an insecure penetration and as this case proved, one incident is all it takes to cost a life and result in bankruptcy.
What can be done to avoid a similar fate as a company and director?
- Communication is key. Make sure that all workers and contractors are informed of the risks. Everyone who enters the work site must have knowledge of the risks.
- Ensure all the risks are identified as soon as possible – before starting work, if that is achievable.
- If a risk arises during construction and it has not been accounted for in SWMS, HAC or project risk assessments, make sure these get updated swiftly and that adequate steps are being taken to eliminate that risk.