A Ballarat construction company has been convicted and fined $25,000 for ignoring WorkSafe directions to fix unsafe scaffolding at a Mount Clear worksite.
Myrti Pty Ltd was found guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court of two offences relating to a failure to provide a safe workplace and a failure to comply with a WorkSafe prohibition notice.
It was also ordered to pay $2897 in costs.
The court heard that WorkSafe issued Myrti with a prohibition notice in May 2016 after an inspector observed incomplete scaffolding, with missing planks and gaps in the handrails, at a site in the Ballarat suburb of Mount Clear.
The notice required that the scaffolding not be used until the safety issues were addressed.
When a WorkSafe inspector returned to check that the notice has been complied with, he observed a person working from the same incomplete scaffolding.
The court heard that two subcontractors said they were directed by a Myrti representative to work on the roof of the construction, and were not aware there was a prohibition notice in respect to the scaffolding.
WorkSafe Head of Operations and Emergency Management Adam Watson said the idea that a construction company would ignore a directive to fix a safety issue as critical as scaffolding was abhorrent.
“Falls are one of the most common causes of death and serious injury among construction workers. You don’t have to fall from a great height to be killed or suffer permanent injuries at a worksite,” Mr Watson said.
“Given the risks it’s quite disturbing to think that anyone would ignore a specific WorkSafe directive to make scaffolding safer.”
Employers should control the risk of injury through falls from height by ensuring:
- The installation of passive fall prevention measures such as railings and scaffolding.
- Workers perform their tasks within a safe area.
- Safety equipment is used to minimise the risk of injury if there is a fall.
- That workplace layout, access requirements, training and experience levels and on-site conditions are taken into account when the risk of falls is assessed.
For more information on how to prevent falls go to worksafe.vic.gov.au/pages/safety-and-prevention/health-and-safety-topics/falls-prevention.
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.