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January 2020

$60,000 fine: Public injured when hoarding collapses into shopping centre

$60,000 fine: Public injured when hoarding collapses into shopping centre

Worksafe Victoria v DWI Pty Ltd (2019)

Facts

DWI Pty Ltd (the Company) is a manufacturer and installer of hoarding within shopping centres.

In March 2015, the Company installed hoarding at Cranbourne shopping centre in Victoria, attaching the hoarding to a bulkhead at the front of the site. However, to allow more room for the works, the hoarding later had to be moved further from the site. The hoarding was subsequently moved out and, as the bulkhead was being demolished, the Company instead affixed the hoarding to the ceiling with a wooden brace.

The roller door to the loading dock at the rear of the site was removed 2 months later. This created a wind funnel into the site. The hoarding subsequently collapsed inwards into the shopping centre, injuring members of the public, and causing damage to displays and other shops.

Judgment

An engineer and WorkSafe Victoria inspectors prepared an expert report, which concluded that the wind funnel from the open loading dock significantly contributed to the collapse of the hoarding. The report suggested that the risk should have been controlled through an engineered solution, with documentation that appropriately addressed, and accounted for, the particulars of the hoarding and the wind loading.

The Company pleaded guilty and was subsequently convicted by the Victorian Magistrates’ Court. The Magistrates’ Court fined the Company $60,000 and ordered it to pay costs of $18,217.97.

Lessons

Employers should be taking all steps to ensure that their workplaces are free from risks to the health and safety of both their workers and any other individuals who may be in the vicinity of the site.

Further, in-depth reviews and audits of worksites must be undertaken prior to starting any major steps in a project, so that the impact of any new developments does not drastically affect other areas of the site.

Employers should also ensure there are appropriate policies and procedures to assess the risk, as well as the suitability of any works undertaken. These policies and procedures should encourage workers to consider all possible avenues of risk, and the suitability of the works to withstand those risks.

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