Labourer Takes Construction Company to Court over Scaffolding Incident

Source: Pixabay.com

The scaffolding company at the centre of a scaffolding collapse at Macquarie Park that claimed the life of a worker is also being sued over another incident which involved scaffolding that fell and struck a worker on the north shore a few years ago.

Last month apprentice formworker Christopher Cassaniti died when scaffolding collapsed and he was crushed in the rubble. A 39 year old co-worker was injured in the incident but the young apprentice was not so lucky, he died shortly after the incident, he was just a teenager.

The company is being sued by a labourer over an incident in October 2012 when the man was allegedly injured. The company is denying the allegations.

Scaffolding safety has become a major concern over the past few years and WorkSafe has investigated a slew of collapses.

 

Scaffolding Collapse in Shopping Mall Prompts State-wide Safety Checks

4929910-3x2-940x627Image source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-02/scaffolding-collapse-at-robina-shopping-centre/4929910

It appears that a scaffolding collapse which took place in a shopping complex on the Gold Coast has resulted in state-wide safety checks as authorities fear a the repeat of such an incident.

Incidents where the public are also placed at risk are particularly concerning because unlike construction workers, the public aren’t trained on construction safety and don’t know how to react in the face of a construction accident.

The accident in question took place last week at the Robina Shopping Complex and thankfully did not result in any injuries or fatalities.

Workplace Health and Safety authorities are looking into the incident and have also begun conducting safety checks on other construction sites across the state of Queensland.

An excerpt taken from SafetyCulture.com.au explains what happened:

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are investigating, along with the construction company, why scaffolding that was a part of a new car park collapsed on Sunday.

All work has been stopped at the site until the investigation is complete, there was nobody injured on in the collapse.

David Hanna, the Builders Labourers Federation state secretary, said that scaffolding on projects in the state will be checked.

He said that this incident highlights the need for safe and correct erection and dismantling of scaffolding. The incident could have been a disaster if it had happened on a work day or if somebody walking or driving by had been injured.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/

Scaffolding that is overloaded or inadequately tied to a building is vulnerable to collapse. It is important that principal contractors, scaffolding contractors and employers assess the risks and develop, implement and maintain appropriate risk control measures in order to prevent an accident like this from occurring again.

Safety Regulation dictates that scaffolding be inspected by a competent person. It is important that principal contractors or those in control of the site ensure that this inspection takes place before the scaffolding is initially used and before it is used following any alterations or repairs.

Scaffolding should also be inspected after an incident that might reasonably be expected to affect the stability or adequacy of the scaffold or its supporting structure such as a heavy storm. Also inspection should take place regularly following that for example at intervals of a week (but not exceeding intervals of 30 days).

Another common error that is often made is overloading of scaffolding. Remember that the scaffolding cannot hold an indefinite weight, there is a limit to the weight it is capable of holding before it risks collapsing.

It is also vital that all on-site workers and subcontractors are provided with adequate information, instruction, training and supervision regarding the control measures required to prevent the collapse of the scaffolding.

Remember if an accident did occur often it is not only the workers on site at risk, the public in areas adjacent to the site may also be hit by falling elements or steel from the structure so ensure that all scaffolding is up to standard and inspected regularly.

 

Company Guilty of Health and Safety Breaches resulting in Scaffolding Collapse

Falls from heights are some of the most common causes of workplace fatalities in Oz and in fact the entire world, yet many companies still fail to guard against this hazard. This is a big mistake because not only do companies place themselves at risk of receiving huge fines and penalties, they also risk losing valuable production hours if workers are injured or killed.

Quite a large number of scaffolding deaths occur each year and the cause for most of them is usually fatal falls from the scaffold. Another common cause of scaffolding injuries and deaths is when components of the scaffold fall and injure people on the ground or objects fall from the scaffold and hit people below.

Regardless of the risks involved scaffolding is still vital to most construction projects and are an irreplaceable component of building works. Since they aren’t going away anytime soon, employers and workers need to learn to manage scaffold hazards effectively.

An incident which happened on a British construction site highlighted the danger of not managing scaffolding hazards. A worker fell 13 metres while working on scaffolding, this excerpt from PPConstructionSafety.com explains what happened:

fragiledeathscaffolder1S&S Scaffolding Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following the death of a workman who fell 13m through the roof of a Merseyside warehouse in December 2010. Tony Causby, 42, was helping to dismantle scaffolding when he stepped onto a fragile rooflight and fell to the floor below.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Mr Causby was involved in erecting the scaffolding at the end of October ahead of work to replace damaged cladding and guttering on the roof. He returned to the site on 14 December as part of the dismantling team, although he was employed by S&S Scaffolding as a labourer rather than a scaffolder.

Mr Causby returned to the roof with another labourer after a lunch break when he stepped on the skylight, which broke and gave way. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The court was heard there were some 80 fragile skylights on one half of the roof. However, the company failed to arrange for load bearing covers to be put over skylights nearest to where persons were working.

Read more: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/07/11/scaffolding-firm-failed-to-manage-rooflight-risk/

Later it was revealed that the company involved was aware of the risks beforehand but failed to guard against and provide a safe plan for the dismantling process and for work from heights.

The employer’s failure to provide workers with a safe system of work for work from heights led to the injury of a workman.  When you consider that the scaffolding company was specialised in scaffolding work, they should have been more aware of the hazards and the need to guard against them. That is what makes this incident even more serious, that the employer blatantly ignored its responsibility. Other employers should learn from this example and ensure they identify all hazards beforehand and develop the control measures to ensure workers aren’t unnecessarily placed in harm’s way.