Prosecutions

Sole trader fined $40k

Adam Raymond Nelson, a sole trader operating a painting and decorating business, was contracted to paint two houses and two sheds at Ulupna Island Station. The second shed had 7 skylights. He engaged a painting sub-contractor to assist with the work, which began on 21 September 2018.

Nelson and the sub-contractor washed down the sheds and started spray painting. While preparing paint on the roof of one the sheds, the sub-contractor stepped backwards and fell through a polycarbonate skylight, landing on a metal cattle fence 5.5 metres below.

He suffered a lacerated spleen, two broken ribs, a punctured lung, several fractured vertebra and a compressed spinal cord.

An investigation found there was no guarding on the edge of the shed's roof or mesh underneath the skylights to prevent a fall from height, and no harnesses were being used. While the Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for the workplace addressed the measures for controlling various risks including falls from height, it was not site-specific and did not identify the skylights as a risk.

The Cobram magistrates' court fined Nelson $40,000 plus costs of $3,574. No information was provided as to whether Nelson was convicted.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for working at such heights without having control measures in place. "It's up to all employers, including sole traders, to ensure they assess each and every safety risk in the workplaces they control," she said. "This employer decided not to use appropriate fall prevention devices despite knowing the clear dangers, and their sub-contractor is now dealing with the catastrophic consequences of that failure." Read more: WorkSafe media release

Cleaning contractor falsifies white cards

Simon Ellis ran a cleaning business ('The Supreme Clean Team'), and had a contract with a building company to clean three residential buildings in a RAAF base in East Sale.

As at the time they had not been handed over and were still considered construction sites, the job required that all employees be holders of a 'white card'. At induction, all needed to provide a copy of a certificate of attainment that they had completed a 'Construction Industry General Safety Induction'. Ellis did this, and was inducted accordingly.

However, for a number of his Ellis provided the company with false certificates of attainment/white cards. He told the employees who didn't have a white cart that it was not actually required, or that, if asked, to say that they had one. These employees accessed the workplace and completed the work on false pretences.

Ellis pleaded guilty and was sentenced fined $7,000, without conviction, plus costs of $5,377. In mitigation, the court took account of a number of factors, including his early guilty plea, lack of ‘priors’, and that he had lost the business.

To check for any Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage. 

UK: Firm fined after painter plunged to his death

A plant hire firm has been fined £200,000 (AUD$364,658) after a Scottish worker plunged to his death from a shipping container. The 70 year old was painting the roof of one of the huge containers at a yard in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. He began helping other employees place chains to the metal containers to move them. But a ladder he was using to clamber on top of the structures was not properly secured and slipped, sending him plunging to the ground below.

An investigation revealed flaws in the safety procedures at the yard when the accident occurred in August 2017. The worker was not wearing a harness and no other barriers were in place when he fell from the ladders. JMS Plant Hire Ltd admitted a criminal health and safety offence at Hamilton Sheriff Court and was fined. Sheriff Thomas Millar said: “I express the condolences of the court to the loved ones of [the worker]. He was a man who worked well beyond retirement age and was personally known to the directors of the company and is also a loss to them. There were regulations in place for working at height but it would appear they were not being fully complied with.” Read more: Daily Record. Source: Risks 998

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