Terry’s Crane Hire and director Terrence Ronald Brown put forth a guilty plea for failing to provide a safe work environment which consequently resulted in serious harm to a contractor.
In August 2010, the Mallon Company contracted Terry’s for some re-roofing work on a commercial property. An 19 year old independent contractor assisted while Terry’s used a crane for the removal of asbestos ridden sheeting. The 19-year-old climbed on top the roof to guide the crane operator. The man walked across the damaged sheets which eventually collapsed causing the man to fall to the cement floor.
Although safety mesh was in place to prevent falls below the roof, it had not continued to the frontage area as asbestos was to be removed prior.
The court found Terry’s had failed to ensure the safety of the 19-year-old, nor did they ensure that he was informed of the risks and was not adequately supervised.
The company was fined $51,000 and Brown was fined $20,000.
They were also ordered to pay $1600 in court costs.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch stated that 16 WA workers have died from falls in the past four years.
“Many others have been seriously and permanently injured as a result of falls, and it’s really disappointing when we keep finding people working at heights without all the possible preventative measures in place,” he said.
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The pair were seen using a ladder, awkwardly supported on two table tops on a sidewalk, to hang a sign outside of a O’Connell St establishment.
SafeWork SA’s guidelines for safe ladder use call for ensuring the ladder is placed on a firm footing and that a barricade or warning signs are displayed for other people within close proximity of the work area.
“Ladders are generally considered high-risk plant and should only be used if there is no other reasonably practicable alternative, such as scaffolding or an elevating work platform,” the guidelines recommend.
The business could not be contacted for comment.
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Construction workers using ladders and working from heights on scaffolding will be the target of a new compliance and inspection campaign by the ACT Work Safety Commission starting this week following a spate of serious falls and injuries over the past year.
WorkSafe inspectors will target the residential housing industry, starting on Tuesday, to check the safety of workers at heights, and to educate them about the dangers of falls.
ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said last year’s independent inquiry into construction safety in the ACT had highlighted falls from heights as a leading cause of serious injuries.
This was backed up by analysis from Safe Work Australia that identified falls from heights as the leading cause of fatalities and a major cause of serious injuries in the industry throughout the country.
”Nationally, ladders, in particular, have been involved in nearly half of the construction fatalities resulting from working at height,” Mr McCabe said. ”We have seen a number of serious injuries here in the ACT recently which have involved falls from ladders. Several of the workers involved in those incidents have been very lucky not to have sustained even more serious injuries than they did. This inspection program will help the industry focus their attention on this specific high-risk activity.”
He said the aim of the program was to ensure both employers and workers were doing the right thing.
Inspectors would promote awareness of the provisions of relevant legislation, such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and associated regulations, as well as checking the level of compliance on sites where working at height was required.
WorkSafe inspectors would focus specifically on work from scaffolds, on roofs, and using ladders.
”Generally, our inspectors will take an educative approach in their discussions. More serious issues, however, may lead to formal notices such as improvement or prohibition notices,” Mr McCabe said.
Some infringements may also result in on-the-spot fines.
Mr McCabe said the program would run for one week initially before the commission evaluated the results to see what next steps were required.
The outcome could be further education for the industry, or more targeted inspection campaigns.
”Our hope is that this focus on working safely at height will lead to a better understanding of the requirements in this area and a higher level of compliance with those requirements in the future,” he said.
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■ In July 2012 a painter fell 3.5 metres from scaffolding at a house site in O’Connor, resulting in broken bones.
■ In August 2102 a worker fell through a collapsed house roof in Bonner.
■ In September 2012 a formworker fell 2.4 metres at a house site in Harrison, sustaining head and vertebrae injuries.
■ In September 2012 a worker at the Cotter Dam who was working on the dam’s abutment face fell 3.4 metres.
■ In September 2012 a worker fell 4 to 5 metres from a ladder when he received an electric shock while working on a roller door in Phillip.
■ In October 2012 a worker was lucky to sustain only minor bruising and grazes when he fell 4.5 metres from a ladder in Mitchell.
■ In October 2012 Jason Bush sustained significant injuries when he fell 5 metres into a lift shaft when working at the Nishi site.
■ In February 2013 a worker suffered a broken hand, elbow and shoulder when he fell 3 metres from a ladder in Gungahlin.
■ In February 2013 a fire systems worker fell through a roof space in Red Hill when a truss gave way.
■ In March 2013 a worker sustained broken ribs when he fell through a fan duct penetration in a roof at Chapman.
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The worker suffered chest injuries resulting from his falling five metres from an internal shaft at the Nishi Apartments in New Acton.
Ambulance paramedics treated him prior to being taken to Canberra Hospital, where he is currently in stable condition. Over 300 construction workers were informed that they will not be able to return to work until the safety issues are dealt with. WorkSafe ACT designated an exclusion zone around the construction site until it can be properly investigated. Originally just the accident site was roped-off but
Dean Hall from CFMEU said “When you have an accident like this on a building site, what you find is that a lot of workers come forward with concerns they’ve had,” he said.
“We’ve had a number of them approach us already with some pretty serious concerns and allegations.
“We’ve given them the undertaking that we’ll work with management to resolve those, and the site will not go back to work until that takes place.”
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The house-painter was hospitalised with suspected spinal injuries and broken bones following a four-metre fall from a ladder while painting a house.
This incident comes less than a week after a 20-year old apprentice suffered electric shock and fell five metres from a ladder and onto concrete. The apprentice accident took place the same day as a large workers rally for better workplace safety. Since the accident the apprentice has gone from “serious” condition to stable.
WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe said the most recent injury occurred early in the afternoon while the painter was working alone on a house. McCabe stressed the importance for workers and bosses alike to be careful.
Currently the painter is hospitalized and awaiting X-ray results.
McCabe also discussed the Braddon demolition site in which workers have refused to work because of serious safety concerns and the alleged mishandling of asbestos on the job.
According to the building union, a significant amount of asbestos-contaminated rubble was rejected at the Mugga Lane tip because of issues with how it was sealed.
Construction union, CFMEU stopped working at the site because of concerns that basic asbestos safety measures were not being followed.
Branch secretary Dean Hall stated that the workers were inadequately trained and were not properly equipped with safety gear. In fact, some workers were not wearing any safety gear at all and were exposing themselves to asbestos.
These same workers would reportedly then leave work with asbestos contamination on their clothes and go home to their families without proper decontamination. There are concerns also that since the large bundle of waste was not sealed properly, fibres could have traveled to other communities.
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Safework has released a press release detailing the events surrounding the injuries suffered by a student who fell while working at heights. According to the courts,the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology to blame for his injuries.
DFEEST has been fined $120,000 by the Industrial Relations Court following the injury of the student.
DFEEST, the agency responsible for TAFE, pleaded guilty to breaching section 22(2) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 by failing to ensure the student’s safety, failing to provide fall protection and failing to conduct and document a proper risk assessment for the task.
The incident occurred at the Gilles Plains campus in November 2009, when a construction student walked across and stood on ceiling beams to help remove a panel. The student lost control and fell 4.5 metres through exposed plasterboard to the floor. He broke several bones and suffered serious and permanent injuries. It was revealed in court that while DFEEST did conduct an internal investigation and amended its Working at Heights and Hazard Management policies, the amendments did not go far enough to explicitly state the proper safety measures that would be necessary to avoid a similar incident.
The court fined DFEEST $120,000 (following a 20 per cent discount to account for an early guilty plea and expression of contrition) and also ordered they pay compensation of $20,000 to the student.
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Source : http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/20120810_dfeest_fined.pdf
Neurosurgeon and member of the Royal Hobart Hospital trauma committee Pauline Waites, and Professor Richard Turner of the University of Tasmania School of medicine, stated that a growing number of serious or fatal injuries have been seen at the hospital recently.
Some injuries reported are a fatal brain haemorrhage,a spinal fracture, multiple spinal fractures and a depressed skull fracture.The hospital’s trauma meeting has revealed that they have dealt with a large number of accidents from people falling off roofs.
Though Tasmania does not keep a registry of trauma from falls, figures released by Ambulance Tasmania indicate that the number could be in excess of 5000.Workplace Standards general manager Roy Ormerod stated that the safety overseer has investigated over 200 falls in the workplace annually. Ormerod said that the definition of a fall was broad as it includes anything from a fall from a roof to a fall from the cab of a truck or even falling down one stair.
The watchdog’s priority is reportedly specific to falls from ladders, unstable scaffolding, and other high-risk work practices.
Ormerod said new tentative health and safety regulations will place greater responsibilities on employees to ensure that all risks attached to Working At Heights were minimised.
An electrical merchant was slapped with a $90,000 fine following the death of a female worker who fell through the ceiling of the store in 2010.Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure and uphold a safe work environment, and by that failure, triggering the death of a worker.
The store encompassed a large warehouse with a showroom throughout the floor area. The ceiling of the showroom was approximately 2.75 metres high and was about half the height of the warehouse. The space between the showroom ceiling and warehouse roof was often used for storage purposes for boxes and stock.Use of the ceiling to store boxes prior to 2007 had caused the ceiling to sag so a separate storage shelf was built to store the boxes.Employees were able to access this new storage area via a 1.8 metre ladder, which would require them to stand on boxes of stock. The shelf was not designed for individuals to stand on but employees say they sometimes had to in order to retrieve the items.
In September 2010, a female worker was assisting another worker in retrieving a washing machine box from the shelf. The female worker placed the step ladder on top of an empty box which eventually gave way, causing her to fall and suffer fatal injuries.
WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the untimely death was a reminder that strick safety procedures must be implemented especially when involving working at heights.
Access Matrix Scaffolding was fined $22,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court for failing to provide a safe work environment which resulted in an injured worker.
The company supplies and builds scaffolding, and the incident in question occurred when a void in a floor was left unfinished and covered with particleboard.
A worker stepped onto the void with the assumption that it was supported by scaffolding and the void collapsed under his weight. He fell 2.7 metres onto the concrete slab, where he sustained the skull and spinal fractures, as well as injuries to his ribs and shoulder.
Despite the particleboard being in place as flooring, the board was spanning a greater length than th manufacturer recommended.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said that the case should act as a reminder to the importance of having preventive measures to avoid falls.
According to McCulloch, falls are one of the most frequent causes of workplace death in the construction sector. In the last four years, 16 workers have died as a result of falling.
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A middle-aged construction worker has died after falling approximately three metres from scaffolding. According to the Police, the Green Valley worker fell at the Sydney building site on the corner of Pitt Street and Campbell street. He died upon the arrival of emergency services.
Workcover and CFMEU State Secretary, Brian Parker said that an investigation has already commenced.
Brian Parker said the accident affected him on a personal level because he knew the worker who died in the accident. Parker has extended his condolences to the family. Work on the site has been halted until a full investigation into the accident has been completed. The ambulance workers were not able to say whether the worker had a heart attack prior to the Working at Heights accident.
WORKSAFE shut down Mount Stanley fire tower following an inspection that revealed safety issues with an access ladder. The Department of Sustainability and Environment appealed the decision, citing that there wasn’t an immediate risk.
WorkSafe Spokesman Michael Birt said spotters were at risk of potentially falling from a high section of the ladder connected to the cabin which was located 15 metres off the ground.
The Australian Worker’ Union heeded fire spotters’ safety concerns about the ladder , radiation from TV and radio transmitters nearby and asbestos found in the cabin floor workplace watchdog earlier this month.
WorkSafe issued a prohibition notice on the upper section of the ladder in January,following an inspection. The Department of Sustainability appealed the notice citing that reasons for prohibition did not provide adequate jusitification.
Birt said that the inspector felt that there was an immediate risk to the health and safety of employees.WorkSafe stated that the problems exist in the last section of a steel ladder with a cage at an angle of about 75 to 80 degrees.
Birt said that the handrails were unusable because of the steepness which obligated the person to hold onto the steps in order to climb up. A request has been made to install additional guarding.
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The manager of a storage company has been fined $2500 after a working at heights injury. The manager, Craig Robert Lee pleaded guilty for failing to prevent adverse effects on an employee’s safety which resulted in serious injury.
Although there was a sign cautioning “No Entry Unsafe Surface”, Lee ordered a worker to go through the area and unscrew a mesh panel.Shortly after, another worker was walking on the unscrewed mesh panel when it buckled and the worker fell almost 3 meters.The worker suffered from a fractured spine, a fractured pelvis as well as other internal injuries.
WorkSafe Commissioner Lex McCullock stated that falls were one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities. 15 workers in West Australia died from falling in the last four years.