Builder fined $390,000 after tragic fall

A building company has been convicted and fined a total of $390,000 after a worker died following a fall at a residential construction site in Templestowe.


Ourarchi Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company was convicted and fined $370,000 for failing to ensure that the workplace was safe and without risks to health and $20,000 for failing to ensure that the site where an incident occurred was not disturbed.

The court heard in April 2020, the 26-year-old worker was helping other workers install glass window panes from first-floor scaffolding on the site when he realised he needed a particular tool.

As he ran along the scaffolding to retrieve the tool, the worker lost his footing on an unsecured wooden plank and fell approximately two metres through a gap to the concrete floor below.

The worker was taken to hospital with head injuries and later died.

Following the incident, the company failed to ensure that the site was left undisturbed before WorkSafe attended.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Ourarchi to have reduced the risk of falls from the scaffold by installing kickboards and rails before it was accessed by workers; and by using and installing proper decking material.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the company’s failure to provide safe scaffolding was a serious departure from its legal obligations.

“The risk of a fall from height, especially in the construction industry, is well known and so are the measures to reduce it – employers have absolutely no excuses.”

Since January this year, four people have died in Victorian workplaces after a fall from height while another 390 people have been seriously injured.

Dr Beer said it was extremely frustrating because falls from height were entirely preventable.

“It doesn’t matter whether a project involves a day’s work or five minutes – it’s never ok to take short-cuts when working at heights.”

To prevent falls from height employers should:

  • 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.