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January 2020

Incorrectly installed scaffolding collapses, causing fall from height

Incorrectly installed scaffolding collapses, causing fall from height

Worksafe v Pro Guardrail Pty Ltd (2017)

Facts

Pro Guardrail Pty Ltd (the Company) is a scaffolding subcontractor that failed to correctly install scaffolding, which collapsed when a carpentry subcontractor stepped onto an unsecured scaffold plank. As a result, the carpenter fell 5 metres to the floor.

Judgment

The Magistrate noted that there was a risk of serious injury to employees falling from scaffolding which was incomplete in parts and not correctly assembled in other parts. This Court considered that the Company had failed to eliminate risks, which it was reasonably practicable to do. The Court noted that after the injury the Company was able to correctly install scaffolding in accordance with Australian Standards. The Company was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000.

Lessons

When there is regulatory information available for controlling risks, such as a Code of Practice, Guidelines or Australian Standards, companies should ensure they comply with them. In this case, the Company failed to comply with Worksafe Victoria’s Builder’s Checklist for Bracket Scaffolds.

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