A concrete formwork company in Victoria has been fined a total of $650,000, following the death of a labourer who fell 12 metres off a work platform at a construction site.
Concorp Group Pty Ltd, now in liquidation, was found guilty by a jury verdict in the County Court of Victoria for failing to maintain a safe working environment and failing to provide instruction.
The judge imposed a fine of $325,000 for each offence under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Concorp was not present at the hearing and was deemed to have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The incident occurred in February 2016, when the 54-year-old labourer who was fatally injured was working at a multi-level apartment complex in Melbourne.
The worker was undertaking drilling while on a four-storey-high wooden platform inside an open shaft when it gave way and he fell to his death.
The cantilevered platform had been constructed two days earlier, but it was then boarded up when one of the labourers who constructed the platform warned that tools could fall from it.
However, the employer failed to instruct other workers not to work on the platform and on the day of the incident, plywood that was used to block the platform’s entrance had been removed by unknown parties (not the deceased man).
An independent engineer who inspected the platform after the incident found it was completely unsuitable for its purpose and that the likelihood of an accident happening was almost inevitable.
The engineer concluded it would have been reasonably practicable for Concorp to take any of the following measures, at negligible cost:
- use a site engineer to design the work platform; or
- reduce the size of the platform to eliminate the cantilever zone; or
- add an additional support beam and extend the platform to the width of the shaft.
“This death could have easily been avoided if other workers had been warned about the unsafe platform, or if the company had made readily available and cheap modifications to reduce the risk of a fall,” WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said.
“Falls from height are one of the biggest killers of Victorian workers and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control the associated risks.”