Demolition company fined $100,000 after fatal wall collapse

A demolition contractor was last week convicted and fined $100,000 (plus costs of $4213) following the death of a worker at a Ballarat building site in 2019. Horsham Back-Hoe Hire was sentenced in the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Friday after pleading guilty on 28 May to one charge of failing to maintain a safe workplace.

On 11 September 2019 a director of the family-run business was demolishing a fire damaged residential property at Mount Pleasant when he pushed over a timber support structure holding up a freestanding brick wall. This caused the wall to collapse, crushing him underneath.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable to have eliminated or reduced the risks by establishing and maintaining an exclusion zone around the live demolition area.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the incident was an absolute tragedy. "My heart goes out to this man's family during what must be an incredibly difficult time," Ms Nielsen said. "This case is a horrific reminder of why it is so important to stop and think about the work being undertaken and ensure risk control measures such as exclusion zones are in place." Source: WorkSafe media release

Meat processor convicted and fined after worker loses tips of fingers

D’Orsogna Limited, a meat processing and packaging company in Mickleham has been convicted and fined $15,000 (plus costs of $1,891) after a worker suffered the amputation of the tips of two fingers on his right hand in July 2019. He was attempting to unjam cooked logs of meat from a meat slicer when his hand made contact with the rotating cutting blade. Although the machine had a light curtain in place that, when broken, stopped the feeding process, the guarding was inadequate in that it did not stop the rotating cutting blade

Within two weeks of the incident the offender had installed a steel mesh guarding system and additional signage that reduced the risk of a person contacting the cutting blade while in operation.

Had it not been for the plea of guilty, the company would have been convicted and fined $20,000.

Scaffolding company fined $20k for failing to follow own SWMS

Scaffolding company Spencer 4 Higher was contracted by Foursquare Construction Management to erect scaffolding at a multi-level residential construction site in Port Melbourne.

On Friday 26 October 2018 a WorkSafe Inspector attended the workplace and observed scaffolding on the front side of the site within approximately 1 metre of overhead powerlines. This was not in accordance to the requirements of a Permit to Work issued by Victorian Electricity Supply Industry ('VESI') in to Foursquare, which permitted the erection, working from and dismantling a scaffold as long as certain conditions were in place.

Spencer 4 Higher prepared a 'Safe Work Method Statement' ('SWMS') which identified that where scaffold was erected within 4.6m horizontally or 5.0m vertically of power lines, there was a risk that workers could be electrocuted. The SWMS listed a number of controls. However, Spencer 4 Higher failed to work in accordance with its own SWMS.

The company pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $20,000 plus costs of $2,546.

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

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