12:33 am, Saturday 21 September, 2013
Photo: SafetyCulture Library
A roofing company including its Director have been fined $100,000 and more than $2200 in costs over an incident in which a worker suffered serious injuries after falling from a roof.
The roofing company and its Director pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe work environment and because of that failure, causing serious injuries to a contractor. They were fined in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday.
In August 2010, the company was engaged to replace the roofing of a commercial building in Osborne Park which was damaged in the March hailstorms. However, they engaged another company to perform the job and a crane hire company to provide a crane to land the new roofing and lift down the removed roofing.
The following month, work on the roofing commenced with two workers – a crane operator and a 19-year-old dogger arriving on the site to begin the task of removing packs of asbestos sheeting and landing the packs of new metal sheets.
The dogger met an accident when he stepped onto the end of one of the polycarbonate sheets while trying to remove slings from a pack of metal sheets. He fell to the cement floor approximately 3.3 metres below and suffered head and neck injuries.
At the time of the incident, safety mesh was installed below the roof building to prevent falls, but it did not continue through the frontage area, although it was planned to install it there after asbestos had been removed.
The court found the company, as the head contractor, failed to require or confirm that adequate system of work was in place to address the risk of a person falling through the skylights.
In addition, the company also failed to ensure that the crane hire company was aware of the distance, height and state of the skylights and the consequent risk of falling through them.
They also failed to ensure that people required to work on the frontage roof had been trained sufficiently or informed of the risks, or was adequately supervised while conducting work.
The Director failed to ensure that the company took any of these measures despite knowing the existence and state of the skylights, the risk and that the crane hire company would provide a dogger who will be working on the roof.
Acting WorkSafe Executive Director Ian Munns said this was a reminder of the importance of fall prevention in workplaces.
“Falls are a significant cause of workplace death, and 17 Western Australian workers have died as a result of falls in the last four years,” Mr Munns said.
“Many others have been seriously and permanently injured as a result of falls, and it’s really disappointing when we keep finding people working at heights without all the possible preventative measures in place.”
“This incident has resulted in the prosecution of six entities, all of whom had a part to play in the safety of the workers at the site, whether they were actually in direct control of the workplace or not”
He said the incident should serve as a reminder of the importance of ensuring work safety.
“The court cases that have resulted from this incident should serve as reminders that the responsibility for ensuring that workplaces are safe is not confined to those actually contracted to perform the work, but also to those who supervise it.
“The day after this incident occurred, safety mesh was installed in the frontage area and the polycarbonate sheets were replaced – all too late for the young man involved in this incident, who really was lucky to escape with his life.
“Falls are almost always readily preventable, and it need not be difficult or costly to ensure that safe systems of work are in place at all times.
“A Code of Practice on fall prevention has existed in WA for more than 20 years. The current code is comprehensive, providing information on the identification of common fall hazards.
“I urge any person or entity in control of a workplace that presents a risk of falls to ensure safe systems of work are in place and that this code is available in the workplace at all times.”