According to WorkCover NSW, the completion of WorkCover prosecutions against a number of companies involved in an incident at a Western Sydney construction site shows just how important workplace health and safety is.
The safety of workers should always be the most important issue for principal contractors and all companies responsible for construction. An incident which took place in Auburn is evidence of that.
A group of companies as well as their directors have been fined more than $330,500 after a man in their employ sustained serious head and brain injuries following a fall. The 54 year old labourer fell almost 4 metres between 2 floors at a construction site in Auburn.
As construction workers know any risk of falling more than 2 metres requires the adequate fall protection because even falls from a relatively low height can have serious, even fatal consequences. Also all holes in the floor need to be covered and visibly marked so that workers do not fall through.
The accident occurred in August 2009 but was recently brought before the courts. The labourer was engaged in work moving building materials between floors as part of a townhouse development in Auburn. The man then fell through an uncovered hole in the floor to the concrete ground, four metres below. The man suffered serious head injuries as a result, this post from WorkCover NSW’s website explains:
The labourer suffered severe head and brain injuries, tissue damage and bruising and required emergency surgery at Westmead Hospital to relieve pressure on the brain caused by a brain haemorrhage.
Multiplus Group Pty Ltd (Multiplus), the developer and manager of the construction at the site, and its director were the last of a group of defendants charged in relation to the incident.
Multiplus and its director were charged with breaching the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000. Both the company and its director pleaded guilty. Multiplus was fined $110,000 and its director was fined $11,000 by the Industrial Court of NSW on 16 August 2013.
WorkCover’s investigation found the failure to implement and maintain safety procedures, such as covering or sectioning off the exhaust hole with barricades, resulted in the serious injuries.
The company was guilty of failing to ensure that the hole was securely covered and also failed to conduct an inspection of the penetration to ensure that it was covered securely. They also failed to warn people about the risk of falling through an open penetration. The companies also did not conduct the necessary risk assessment regarding working in the vicinity of an open unsecured penetration and failed to implement appropriate control measures to address these risks.
As WorkCover went on to explain in the post the size of the construction project meant there were a number of companies involved with responsibility for ensuring this worker’s safety which is why they all received fines. It is also highlights that companies should not just assume that the responsibility over the safety of the site is someone else’s because if an incident like this does occur, you may be just as liable.