Canberra developer fined $180K for young worker’s fall from height

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A Canberra developer has been fined $180,000 over a 2016 incident in which a young worker fell off a ladder and broke his neck at the worksite.

The company pleaded guilty to charges of breaching its workplace safety obligations.

The October 2016 incident occurred on an Amaroo construction site. A young person who was part of the Master Builders Group Training Scheme’s then ‘Kid Assist’ program sustained broken bones as well as spine and internal injuries after falling through a void. He was standing on a ladder placed next to a stairwell opening which did not have any fall protection around the opening. The young worker then fell six metres onto concrete when they stepped off the ladder.

“Falling through an unmarked and uncovered void was certainly not a remote possibility, but rather a real possibility,” ABC quoted Magistrate Glenn Theakston as saying.

“I note that the defendant concedes that this risk is notorious.”

In a statement, ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones expressed his disappointment in the financial penalty served by the ACT Industrial Court, noting that the breach carried a possible maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

“WorkSafe ACT is disappointed by the outcome today,” said Minister Jones.

“The worker involved in this incident suffered significant and life changing injuries.

“Noting that this incident could have quite been fatal, WorkSafe expected a greater penalty in recognition of this and to provide a strong deterrence for industry.”

Mor. Jones said that falls from heights remained one of the greatest risks for death and significant injury in the construction sector. Young workers were often overrepresented in these incidents.

WorkSafe is seeking further advice on whether to appeal the penalty decision.

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