Construction company fined following fall of worker into excavated shaft

Construction company fined following fall of worker into excavated shaft

A construction company has been fined $70,000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act) after a construction labourer fell approximately 5-6 metres into an excavated shaft.

The worker sustained various injuries, including fractured ribs and a fractured collarbone, requiring three nights hospitalisation.

The construction company had been contracted to undertake a civil construction project, including a sewer upgrade in the inner Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba. The project required the excavation of several shafts, with trench boxes installed to provide temporary control against the possibility of the trench collapsing.

On 5 November 2020, a labourer was attempting to remove a piece of concrete to allow the installation of a final trench box. While undertaking the activity, he fell approximately 5-6 metres.

The post-incident investigation undertaken by Work Health and Safety Queensland confirmed that the construction company had various control measures in place, including a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) which mandated a fall arrest system where workers were required to approach an unprotected edge.

Unfortunately, no fall arrest equipment was used while the labourer was undertaking the task.

Magistrate Quinn determined that a travel restraint system should have been used during the works and that if the company had followed its own procedures, the incident would not have happened.

In imposing a fine of $70,000 on the construction company, the Magistrate noted the defendant’s implementation of safety measures, their lack of previous safety breaches, and their level of cooperation with the subsequent investigation undertaken by Work Health and Safety Queensland.

No conviction was recorded.

Construction company fined $70,000 after worker fell 6 metres into excavated shaft | owhsp

For queries about safety, dealing with inspectors, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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