VIC: Companies, Director Prosecuted After Overhead Powerline Accident

Two companies and a director have been fined after a worker touched an overhead powerline on a construction site.

The Melbourne Magistrate’s Court has convicted the construction company responsible for the site and its director on Thursday. They were fined $30,000 and $20,000 respectively.

The roofing company that employed the 21-year-old victim was also convicted and fined $8,000 earlier this year. It failed to adequately train and supervise workers installing the roofing, and to perform a job safety analysis for hazards including powerlines.

In 2008, the worker made contact with an overhead powerline while helping install a roof on a residential construction site. He sustained severe burn injuries to his right and left hands and left foot.

The court heard how the network electricity supplier warned the construction company over electrical hazards prior to the incident.

“What has happened here is a number of failures in a chain of responsibility,” WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety Ian Forsyth said.

“[The construction company]and its director were warned about the no-go zone by the electricity supplier and ordered to stop construction work, yet they failed to do so.

“[The roofing company] had a responsibility to make sure their contractors could do their job safely – which they failed to uphold.

“And the worker’s direct employer… had an obligation to make sure the construction site was safe by performing a job safety analysis which considered risks including powerlines.

“None of these parties managed to fulfill their responsibilities. The upshot of all of this is that a young worker suffered debilitating injuries with long recovery times.”

Mr Forsyth said that ignoring no-go zones could not be excused.

“The risks around working near overhead powerlines are well known – the new no-go zone rules were introduced over a decade ago.

“In this case, despite warnings from the network electricity supplier, the company and its director showed blatant disregard for the risks.”

Mr Forsyth noted that there is an added level of responsibility when supervising young workers.

“Young workers are more likely to suffer a workplace injury than any other age-group, and more likely to be hospitalised as a result. Managers and supervisors need to be sure young workers are trained and supervised so that they can carry out their job safely.”

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