Operations manager fined for labourer’s serious fall injuries

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The Operation Manager of a roofing company has been fined $7500 plus costs of $517 following a labourer’s serious injuries when he fell through a skylight.

The manager pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting another person, and by that failure, causing serious harm and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court on June 26.

The incident happened in September 2015. Two roof plumbers were removing rusted metal roof sheets from an existing portal frame roof, and another plumber and the roof labourer were cleaning up metal offcuts and insulation spread around the roof. On these roofs were several fragile skylights which the manager identified but did not ensure that a safe work procedure was in place that required workers on the roof to use a fall injury prevention system.

The labourer wasn’t aware of the skylight and fell when he stepped back, sustaining multiple fractures and other serious injuries.

“The worker involved in this incident was very fortunate not to have lost his life in the five-metre fall,” said WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch.

“Over the past 10 years, 31 Western Australian workers have lost their lives as the result of work-related falls, five of these during the 2016/17 financial year.

“Add to this the number of workers who have sustained permanent and life-changing injuries in falls, and the size of the problem becomes apparent.

“Where brittle or fragile roofing materials from any part of a roof, people accessing the roof need to be informed and be provided with a safe system of work along with instructions or training about the safe system of work to be used.

“Where construction work involved a risk of a person falling more than two metres, the main contractor/building owner must ensure that a Safe Work Method Statement is prepared before the work begins.

“In addition, the Code of Practice – Prevention of Falls at Workplaces has been in use in WA since 2004 and should be followed by anyone who has a duty to prevent falls at workplaces.

“This code provides practical advice on the safe systems of work that should be in place where the risk of falls exists.

“Employers need to be aware of all the laws involved when there is a fall risk at their workplace and ensure they have suitable safe work procedures in place.”

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