Company fined $40,000 after worker trapped under gate

A Melbourne carpentry business has been fined $40,000 after a worker was injured by a falling 250-kilogram steel gate at a Brighton construction site.


Build Tech Hoardings Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Moorabbin Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 3 April after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.

The company was fined without conviction and also ordered to pay costs of $4132.

The court heard Build Tech Hoardings had been contracted to modify entrance gates at the Brighton work site in June 2022.

Just two days after the works were completed, a traffic control worker for the site was attempting to pull the gate closed when it dislodged from its track, falling on the worker and trapping her by the ankle.

After screaming for help, the worker was pulled to safety and taken to hospital suffering a dislocated and broken ankle, bruising and other minor injuries.

A WorkSafe investigation found a steel stopper at the top of the gate, designed to stop the gate extending past the steel support hurdles, had been removed during modification works and not replaced.

It was reasonably practicable for the company to have maintained a safe system of work that included the development and implementation of a checklist to assist with inspection of the gate and ensured the gate was inspected by a qualified engineer before returning to operational use, as outlined in the company's Safe Work Method Statement.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the failures had exposed a worker to a preventable and traumatic experience.

"A worker has been left with painful physical injuries in an incident that could have had a far more tragic outcome," Dr Beer said.

"This case highlights why it is vital for employers to not only have a Safe Work Method Statement in place for high risk construction work, but to ensure all work is carried out in accordance with that SWMS."

When undertaking High Risk Construction Work (HRCW), duty holders must:

  • Ensure HRCW is not performed unless a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is prepared.
    Ensure that once a SWMS has been developed, all HRCW work is undertaken in accordance with that SWMS.
  • Stop work immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so, once they become aware a SWMS is not being followed.
  • Review the SWMS whenever there is a change in the work being undertaken or if there is an indication that control measures are not adequate.
  • A copy of the SWMS must be retained for the duration of any HRCW.