Principal Contractor fined after subcontractor employee’s fall from heights

Principal Contractor fined after subcontractor employee's fall from heights

Principal Contractor fined after subcontractor employee’s fall from heights

A construction company has been fined in the Wynnum Magistrates Court for breaching section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act) after a worker fell from a balcony and sustained serious injuries.

The company was engaged to build a residential two-storey care facility in Cannon Hill, in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs, and contracted a painting and plastering subcontractor to undertake painting works on the site.

On 10 November 2020, the company arranged the installation of a temporary barricade across a doorway to prevent workers from accessing an unguarded balcony on the first floor. The barricade, which consisted of a piece of cement sheeting, was approximately 1m in height with the words ‘No Entry’ painted across it.

However, there was another open doorway that was not barricaded.

On 20 November 2020, an employee of the painting and plastering subcontractor was tasked with painting parts of the interior structure of the building. The worker was painting a rear balcony area.

The Principal Contractor had not arranged any barricades to this area or posted any warning signs that railings had not been installed, nor was there any form of edge protection in place.

While working on the balcony, the worker lost his place and fell approximately 3.4m before striking the ground. He was admitted to hospital and sustained a fracture to his spine, necessitating surgery.

He was confined to hospital for one week but fortunately did not suffer any permanent damage to his back as a result of the fall.

Magistrate Zachary Sarra noted that there was an obvious risk to health and safety for any workers on the balcony, with serious likely consequences, including the possibility of a fatality in the event of a worker falling from the structure.

In imposing a fine of $75,000 against the business, Magistrate Sarra noted the defendant’s timely guilty plea, show of remorse, lack of prior convictions and general good character.

A conviction was not recorded.

Company fined $75,000 after worker falls from balcony | owhsp

For queries about safety, safe work at heights, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to

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.

Ref: 418.0324

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