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Sydney construction company fined after worker falls 12 metres

04 August, 2016

A Sydney construction company has been fined $87,500 after a labourer fell 12 metres from a scaffold at a Lane Cove construction site.

The incident, which occurred on 7 December 2012 at a unit construction site at Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove, resulted in the labourer suffering head and neck injuries.

At the time of the incident, the labourer was bracing pre-fabricated walls on an unguarded scaffold extension platform within a second floor lift shaft when he stepped off the platform onto an unsecured piece of timber and fell 12 metres to the ground.

The labourer had been employed by sub-contractor, Ultra Wall Pty Ltd who was charged with a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 but later went into liquidation. SafeWork NSW also charged principal contractor, JSN Hanna Pty Ltd with a breach of section 32 of the Act for failing to comply with its duty under section 19(1) to have guardrails around the scaffold extension platform as well as failing to ensure the labourer was instructed to not work near the unprotected edge of the extension platform.

JSN Hanna Pty Ltd was found guilty in the District Court and fined $87,500.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said it was fortunate that the man was not more seriously injured in an incident that could easily have been prevented.

"The construction industry is one of the state’s most important industries," Dunphy said.

"But it also continues to be one of the State’s highest risk with 6,545 workplace injuries and 15 fatalities in the two years to July 2014.

"During 2013/14 there were also 4,170 workers compensation claims for falls from heights across all industries at a cost of more than $49 million.

"Under NSW work health and safety laws, businesses must have safety systems in place to prevent workers falling from heights.

"They must also provide information, instruction, training and supervision to workers on risk control procedures.

"While the worker had received a site induction and attended a tool box talk where safe working at heights was discussed, the incident could have been prevented if JSN Hanna Pty Ltd had installed full hand railing and guard railing around the scaffold edges.

"This incident highlights the way work health and safety responsibilities are shared between principal contractors and subcontractors on construction sites."

Information on safe working at heights, including the free publications Safe working at heights, and the Code of Practice: Safe Work on Roofs Parts 1 and 2 is available at www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50.

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