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January 2020

Fall through void avoidable

Fall through void avoidable

Worksafe Victoria v Aveo Homes Pty Ltd (2017)

Facts

Aveo Homes Pty Ltd (the Company) was a residential construction company. It engaged Dascom Electrical Pty Ltd to complete electrical works at the construction site. The electrician on site, who was also the director of Dascom, fell nearly 3 metres through an open stairwell onto the concrete floor while he was roughing in wiring on the second floor.

Judgment

The Sunshine Magistrates Court found that there was an obvious risk of falling from height from the open stair void. There was no edge protection and this exposed persons to a risk of death or serious injury. Magistrate Grubissa found the Company had failed so far as was reasonably practicable to ensure void protection was in place. It was noted that a void platform could have been readily used to cover the open stairwell and minimise the risk. The Company was fined $30,000.

Lessons

Open voids are an obvious risk that must be controlled. The fact that the fall was from the second level of a townhouse was not a mitigating factor as there was still a serious risk of injury. Companies must ensure reasonably practicable steps are taken to detect and address any voids or open penetrations, on an ongoing basis during construction.

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