Construction company fined $850,000 after fatal fall

A residential construction company has been convicted and fined $850,000 after a worker fell to his death on a building site in Melbourne’s north.
News article published

Tuesday 04 Aug 2020

Industries and topics
  • Construction
  • Fall prevention

Seascape Constructions Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court on Tuesday last week following the 2017 death of a carpenter at a two-storey house under construction in Kalkallo.

The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to prepare and conduct work in accordance with a safe work method statement (SWMS).

Seascape engaged the carpenter and a handyman via the website Gumtree to work at the site, including to lay flooring.

The court heard the carpenter was lowering a compressed air nail gun by its air hose when he fell from an unprotected edge, landing on a concrete slab about 3.1 metres below.

The 68-year-old died of head injuries at the scene.

The court heard the workers were not provided with a SWMS before commencing the high risk construction work or while performing the work and that no safety procedures or safe working methods were discussed.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was vital that all workers are appropriately trained, equipped and supervised to do their jobs safely.

"Falls from height are a well-recognised safety hazard and are among the biggest killers of Victorian workers," Ms Nielsen said.

"This death is a tragic reminder that WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any employer who fails to do all they can to protect their workers' health and safety."

To prevent falls from height employers can:

  • Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.