A building company has been convicted and fined $35,000 for exposing workers to risk of serious injury on a residential construction site at Ferntree Gully.
Published:23 April 2021
UNIK Constructions pleaded guilty in the Ringwood Magistrates' Court last Thursday to two charges of failing to eliminate or reduce the risk of a fall from height and two charges of failing to prepare or perform work in accordance with a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS).
The company was also ordered to pay costs of $6797.
The court heard that in August 2017, a WorkSafe inspector attended the worksite and observed workers on the second storey with no fall prevention measures in place.
The inspector also found there was no SWMS for the high risk construction works and that the scaffold being used to access the area was unsafe.
Two improvement notices were issued, as well as a prohibition notice prohibiting work from the scaffold.
Returning the next day, the inspector observed unsafe work from height had continued and a further prohibition notice was issued prohibiting works to the external face of the first floor.
Three subsequent visits identified continued unsafe work from height at the site, including use of the scaffold and work not being done in accordance with a SWMS. Two further improvement notices were issued.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there were no excuses for failing to manage the risks of falls from height, which were a leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry.
"Even though nobody was injured in this instance, it's a reminder that WorkSafe is out there enforcing workplace safety," Ms Nielsen said.
"It's up to employers to ensure they reduce the risks of working from height, including by having appropriate guarding in place and ensuring a SWMS has been prepared and is being followed."
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.