Demolition company fined $100,000 after fatal wall collapse

A demolition contractor has been convicted and fined $100,000 following the death of a worker at a Ballarat building site in 2019.
News article published

Monday 12 Jul 2021

Horsham Back-Hoe Hire was sentenced in the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Friday after pleading guilty on 28 May to one charge of failing to maintain a safe workplace.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $4213.

On 11 September 2019 a director of the family-run business was demolishing a fire damaged residential property at Mount Pleasant when he pushed over a timber support structure holding up a freestanding brick wall. This caused the wall to collapse, crushing him underneath.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable to have eliminated or reduced the risks by establishing and maintaining an exclusion zone around the live demolition area.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the incident was an absolute tragedy.

"My heart goes out to this man's family during what must be an incredibly difficult time," Ms Nielsen said.

"This case is a horrific reminder of why it is so important to stop and think about the work being undertaken and ensure risk control measures such as exclusion zones are in place."

To reduce the risks when undertaking demolition work employers should:

  • Establish exclusion zones, including the use of physical barricades with adequate signage to prevent employees and other people, including members of the public, from entering potentially unsafe work areas.
  • Provide information to employees and other people in the workplace advising them of the status of the exclusion zone and provide supervision so that no unauthorised person enters an exclusion zone.
  • Separate pedestrians and employees from powered mobile plant.
  • Use hard hats, steel cap boots, gloves and high visibility vests.
  • Consult with employees, including HSRs, when making decisions about how to control risks.