Roofing company fined following serious injury to worker who fell from heights
A roof renovation and repair business has been found to have breached section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (The Act) in a recent decision in the Southport Magistrates Court. The unnamed company (Company A) pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its primary duty to ensure workers’ health and safety, thereby exposing workers to the risk of death or serious injury.
The company had been contracted by another business Company B to replace four polycarbonate skylights on the roof of a shed with metal sheeting. The company engaged three subcontract workers to complete the task.
In evidence presented before Magistrate Mark Howden, Company A confirmed that they did not implement any fall prevention device or fall arrest system for the works being undertaken, therefore failing to eliminate or minimise the risk of falling through the skylights.
The work was carried out at a height of approximately 4.8 metres from the ground, meaning there was a significant risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fall.
Despite the director of Company A visiting the site and instructing the subcontract workers, no fall prevention device or fall arrest system was used during the work.
On 2 December 2019, one of the workers stood on a polycarbonate sheet that broke, and he fell to the ground suffering a fractured skull and a brain haemorrhage.
Following the incident, the worker has also reported suffering from a psychiatric condition as a result of the fall.
In determining an appropriate penalty, Magistrate Howden noted the need for general and specific deterrence for other contractors as the risk of death or serious injury in the circumstances was real and foreseeable.
He acknowledged that the defendants pleaded guilty and willingly cooperated throughout the length of the investigation. The director was remorseful for what had occurred, and neither he nor the company had any relevant criminal history.
He imposed fines of $50,000 on the company and $10,000 on the sole director. No conviction was recorded.
The case highlights the fundamental need for employers to have in place safe systems of work, including adequate training and supply of appropriate safety equipment in all situations.
For queries about safety, prosecutions, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 925 529 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.