Companies fined for unsafe scaffolding

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Two companies in Melbourne have been fined a total of $62,000 for unsafe scaffolding at a Bentleigh East work site.

The scaffolding company was found guilty of three charges, including two of failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and one of failing to ensure people other than employees were not exposed to risks posed by scaffolding at the site.

According to an investigation, scaffolding at the site was seen leaning towards overhead powerlines during wind gusts in October 2016. Plywood has been attached to the outside of the scaffolding, increasing the chances of it collapsing in strong winds.

WorkSafe found the company failed to calculate wind and impact loads on the scaffolding and had not obtained engineering advice to address the risk.

The company was fined $45,000 and ordered to pay $4,699.

At a separate hearing, a construction company pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace by not providing adequate protection for pedestrians passing below the building as it was being constructed.

It was fined $17,000 plus costs of $4,089.

“Scaffolding failures can have catastrophic consequences for both workers and the general public,” said WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety, Paul Fowler.

“Employers must protect workers from the risk of falling from height, and workers and the general public would rightly expect that when they pass by a building under construction they will be protected from falling objects.

“As these prosecutions demonstrate, WorkSafe will not wait for a tragedy to occur before it takes enforcement action on serious safety breaches.”

More information is available on WorkSafe Victoria’s website.

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