Pearling company pleads guilty over worker injury

A pearling company was fined $10,000 on Thursday after pleading guilty over the serious injury of its worker.

A cook onboard a pearling vessel fell two metres from a roof onto the lower deck in September 2011. According to investigation, the vessel was docked during low tide and was being re-supplied for an upcoming voyage. Because of the low tide, a portable gang plank was placed from the wharf to the upper deck landing platform to allow access for workers to the vessel.

According to NT WorkSafe, there were no appropriate fall protection measures on the landing platform on the upper deck to prevent workers from stepping onto the roof of the lower deck. The roofing material used could not bear a person’s weight.

NT WorkSafe also found the pearling company did not give proper instruction to the injured worker in the safe use of the portable gangway and the landing platform, or warned him of the risks involved in boarding the vessel from the portable gangway.

“The above incident highlights the dangers Territory workers face when working at heights as it only takes a momentary lapse in concentration or loss of footing for an injury to occur,” said Executive Director of NT WorkSafe, Laurene Hull.

“Falls from heights are a major cause of workplace injury in the Northern Territory with over $30 million paid in compensation claims over the past three years as a direct result of falls from heights.

“Everyone can become complacent when it comes to workplace safety. A 25 year old painter recently suffered fractures to his wrist and leg after falling approximately six metres from a roof in Fannie Bay,” said Ms Hull.

NT WorkSafe inspectors have already issued 32 prohibition notices and 5 improvement notices this year to date as a result of insufficient protection from falls at Territory workplaces.

Ms Hull said that the Northern Territory has adopted three Codes of Practice relating to fall prevention, which can be downloaded from the NT WorkSafe website.

“Before commencing work, businesses and workers should conduct a risk assessment to identify all the hazards of working at heights,” said Ms Hull.

“Workplace Safety inspectors will continue to work with businesses and their workers to improve workplace safety and enforcement action will be taken for any serious breaches.”

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