CSR Building Products Ltd, trading as Monier Roofing, pleaded guilty in the Geelong Magistrates' Court on Wednesday to one charge of failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health.
The company was sentenced, with conviction, and was also ordered to pay costs of $4,950.
The court heard that in May 2018, an employee of a contractor was on the roof of the single storey site nailing roof battens in place when it is believed he stepped on an unsecured batten, causing him to fall more than three metres onto a concrete slab below, suffering serious injuries.
WorkSafe inspectors who attended the site found that the method used to install the battens was to rest each batten against a tack nail, only nailing them in once all the trusses were in place.
This was at odds with a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) prepared for the work which stipulated that, to prevent falls, a progressive battening technique be used to provide a secure platform for workers as they made their way up the roofline. However, the SWMS did not provide details on how to undertake progressive battening.
The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for the company to provide a SWMS for the roofing work which included detailed instructions on the installation of roof battens.
On 17 March 2020, the contractor who employed the worker pleaded guilty to not working in accordance with the SWMS and was, without conviction, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5,751.59.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the dangers of falls from heights were well known and WorkSafe would not hesitate to prosecute any employer who put their workers' health at risk through unsafe work practises.
"Even falls from relatively low heights can leave people with permanent, debilitating injuries," Dr Beer said.
"As an employer, it's your responsibility to keep your workplace safe, including protecting your workers by ensuring safe systems of work are 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.
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