Fell Almost 13 Feet and Sustained Serious Injuries
An Australian construction company was recently fined $50,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a 54-year-old man sustained serious injuries from falling almost 13 feet at a building site in Western Sydney, according to a report from the WorkCover Authority of New South Wales.
In August of 2009, a laborer was moving building materials at a construction site in Auburn as part of the 22-unit residential development.
The laborer was moving materials between the ground and second floors when he fell almost 13 feet through an exhaust hole in the ground floor onto the concrete floor below.
The man suffered severe head injuries, tissue damage and bruising and required emergency surgery at Westmead Hospital to relieve pressure on the brain caused by a brain hemorrhage.
Failed to Implement & Maintain Safety Procedures
WorkCover’s investigation found the failure to implement and maintain safety procedures, such as covering or sectioning off the exhaust hole with barricades, resulted in the serious injuries.
In particular the company:
- Failed to ensure that the exhaust hole was securely covered;
- Failed to conduct an inspection of the hole to ensure that it was securely covered;
- Failed to warn persons about the risk of falling through the exhaust hole when working in the immediate vicinity;
- Failed to conduct a risk assessment regarding working in the vicinity of an open unsecured hole and failed to implement appropriate control measures to address these risks.
Austar Constructions Pty Ltd was charged with breaching the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 by the Industrial Court of NSW.
Prosecutions Following This Incident
WorkCover is carrying out prosecutions against a number of companies and individuals following this incident:
- Aleksic Carpentry Pty Ltd, a carpentry company that does timber door frames, window frames and other work in the construction industry and its director have been fined a total of $125,000
- Multiplus Group Pty Ltd has entered a guilty plea with sentencing planned for the end of this year.
- Two site managers have also pleaded guilty, judgements have been reserved.
This prosecution is one of a number in relation to this matter. Judgment has been made against one company and another individual. The six remaining matters are still before the court.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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