A civil construction company which failed to provide adequate site security at a housing subdivision site in Pakenham has been fined $35,000, without conviction, after a member of the public on a late-night walk was injured after falling into a hole on the site and becoming trapped.
Lojac Civil Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to one charge under the 2004 OHS Act for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks. It was also ordered to pay $4000 in costs.
The Melbourne Magistrates' Court was told that at around 11pm on 20 January 2016, a member of the public was walking his dogs across what he thought was a flat, clear area when he fell down an incline and into a 4m deep bore hole, which caved in and buried him up to his waist.
The man was able to use his mobile phone to call for help and was rescued by the CFA. He suffered abrasions and bruising.
The court was told that the worksite, which contained 80 large, deep bore holes ranging in depth from 2.5m to 4m, was not secured to prevent unauthorised access.
WorkSafe's Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said Lojac had failed in its responsibility to ensure the public was not put at risk by failing to provide suitable security to prevent anyone from accessing hazards on the worksite.
"Victoria's OHS laws are clear. Employers have a duty of care not just to their own workers and to other workers but to the general public as well," Ms Williams said.
"In this case, there was an obvious risk to the public, so site security should have been installed from day one so the public was aware that it was a worksite.
"Given the circumstances surrounding this incident, it is fortunate the man was not more seriously injured, or that the incident did not involve a child."
Make your site secure
Employers must make sure the public is not put at risk by exposure to the worksite:
• A risk assessment should be undertaken to determine the level of security required. This should take into account factors such as:
Location near (near houses, shops, playgrounds or schools).
Paths or other public access routes passing the site.
The type of work being done.
The mobile plant being used.
Materials stored on the site.
• The degree of site security required may change as the works progress and the risks to the public increase.
• To avoid having to secure the whole site, stage works so the hazards are contained within smaller areas.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.