Civil construction company fined after a member of the public fell into hole at worksite

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Photo: freemind1013, Pixabay

A construction company has been fined $35,000 after a member of the public got trapped in a hole at a housing construction site.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge under the 2004 OHS Act for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks. It was also ordered to pay $4000 in costs.

The incident happened in January 2016. A member of the public was walking his dogs across what he thought was a flat, clear area when he fell down an incline and into a 4m deep borehole, which caved in and buried him up to his waist.

The man called for help and was rescued by the CFA. He suffered abrasions and bruising.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court was told that the site containing 80 large and deep boreholes was not secured to prevent unauthorized access.

“Victoria’s OHS laws are clear. Employers have a duty of care not just to their own workers and to other workers but to the general public as well,” said Ms. Marnie Williams, WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director of Health and Safety.

“In this case, there was an obvious risk to the public, so site security should have been installed from day one so the public was aware that it was a worksite.

“Given the circumstances surrounding this incident, it is fortunate the man was not more seriously injured, or that the incident did not involve a child.”

Ms Williams reminded employers to make sure the public is not put at risk by exposure to the worksite and to conduct a risk assessment to determine the level of security required.

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