Company and director fined $320,000 after unprotected fall

A residential building company and its director have been convicted and fined a total of $320,000 after a renderer was seriously injured when he fell 3.2 metres while working without fall protection.

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Published: 11 March 2022

Palladian Three Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after earlier being found guilty of a single charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

The company was convicted and fined $250,000.

Director Sach Sackl was also convicted and fined $70,000 after earlier being found guilty of a single charge of failing, as director, to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

The court heard the renderer fell while working from an unsecured plank on the exterior of the second floor of a unit under construction at Pascoe Vale in October 2016.

He was taken to hospital with serious injuries including a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage, broken ribs, a punctured lung, lacerated spleen, fractured arm and fractured ankle.

WorkSafe alleged that there was a risk of serious injury or death due to falling from the plank, which was 3.2 metres above ground and had no edge or fall protection.

The court found it was reasonably practicable for Palladian Three and Mr Sackl to ensure that passive fall prevention such as scaffolding was in place before the work began.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the serious risks associated with working at heights are well-known and there is no excuse for failing to provide safe workplaces.

"This was a blatant failure to protect workers, which sadly left one worker with significant injuries that could have easily been fatal," Dr Beer said.

"Already this year there have been three deaths due to workplace falls," she said.

"WorkSafe won’t hesitate to prosecute employers who fail in their duty of care to maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health."

To prevent falls from height employers should first:

  • Consider if they can eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.

If that is not possible, they should use:

  • A passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • A positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system.
  • A fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.
  • A fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.