No accident is necessary for WHS regulators to commence a safety breach prosecution. Last month, a principal contractor in Victoria was hit with a $35,000 fine plus $10,112 in costs for breaching the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 by failing to ensure its subcontractor prevented falls from height risks to its workers. Star (Australia) Construction Pty Ltd, which trades as Knight Building Group, had engaged V & R Solid Plastering Pty Ltd to install polystyrene and plaster exterior walls at two double-storey townhouses in Caulfield North in Melbourne.
When WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visited the workplace, they observed V & R workers working at a 4.8-metre height near an unprotected edge. On the second floor, the inspectors also observed an internal timber guard rail around a circular opening with no mid rail and excessive spacing between uprights. This created a 6-metre fall risk through the first floor and into the basement. V & R Solid Plastering was fined $25,000 plus $3,505 costs in April this year for its failure to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) and failure to provide a safe working environment for the high-risk construction work. Star Construction was fined for failing to manage and control the fall risk, which created a risk of serious injury or death to workers on the site. Health and Safety Bulletin October 2019.
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