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Employer fined $40,000 for lacking fall protection controls

A Victorian based roofing manufacturer has been convicted and fined $40,000 after being found to have a lack of fall protection while at a building site. The company in question pleaded guilty to a single charge of having failed to ensure that their workplace was safe and without risk to health. The company was also ordered to pay $6683 in costs.

In late 2018, a prime mover fitted with a loading crane delivered wooden roof trusses to a two-storey residential construction site. A worker climbed up the building frame to the first floor to unhook the chain sling of the crane. The worker was not wearing a safety harness at the time. After unclipping the chain sling, the worker proceeded to sit on the chains of the crane and was lowered down by the crane operator before being placed on the tray of a truck. This activity was filmed by a local resident and was provided to WorkSafe Victoria who promptly commenced an investigation.

The investigation undertaken uncovered that there was the risk of serious injury or death being incurred due to a fall from over two meters. It was further found that it would have been reasonably practicable for the employer to ensure that its workers used a portable ladder to access and exit the building’s first floor. While the incident did not result in injury to the employee on this occasion, the offence was still serious.

All employers have a duty and obligation to provide a workplace that is safe and falls from height is one of the biggest killers of workers. As such, it is critical that all workers are appropriately trained, equipped and supervised to perform their roles safely.

Employers are urged to implement reasonable control measures that will reduce the risk of falls from height. Where possible, employers should also use passive fall prevention devices such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms. A fall arrest system (such as a harness or safety net) can also limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall. Where possible, employers should also use fixed or portable ladders, or implement appropriate administrative controls.

As demonstrated by this case, Work Health and Safety Regulatory bodies will not hesitate to take action against employers who fail to address well-known safety hazards in their workplace.

If you would like assistance with understanding your work health and safety obligations, or should you require support with any work health and safety matters, please contact us to discuss our Safety Advice Online service.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such

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