WA wine producer fined $60,000 for ladder fall incident

A wine producer has been fined $60,000 after pleading guilty for failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace resulting to a worker’s head injuries from ladder fall, reports Perth Now.

The Albany Magistrates Court heard that the worker was cleaning the exteriors of a six-metre-tall wine tank  in July 2008 and was using an extension ladder to reach the upper portion of the tank when he fell about three metres from the unsecured ladder. He suffered severe head injuries and had to be airlifted to Perth. He had to go through head surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch reminded everyone of the importance of securing the workplace to prevent falls.

“Falls are almost always readily preventable, and it need not be difficult or costly to ensure that safe systems of work are in place at all times,” said Mr McCulloch.

“Falls are one of the most significant causes of workplace death in the construction industry, and 16 Western Australian workers have died as a result of falls in the last four years.

“In this case, the fall – and the suffering of the worker – could have been avoided simply by ensuring that another employee assisted by holding the ladder, as detailed in the company’s occupational safety and health manual.

“Subsequent to this incident, the employer prohibited the use of extension ladders in this fashion, and ensured that extension poles were available at the workplace to clean the tanks from ground level.

“All this was unfortunately too late for the worker who fell and suffered serious injuries.”

According to Mr McCulloch, a Code of Practice on fall prevention has been in place in WA for more than 20 years.

“The current code is comprehensive, providing information on the identification of common fall hazards and the correct use of appropriate ladders and fall arrest and prevention equipment,” said Mr McCulloch.

“I urge any employer in control of a workplace that presents a risk of falls to ensure this code is available in the workplace at all times.”

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