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An unsafe workplace results in a father’s tragic death

An unsafe workplace results in a father’s tragic death (Last Updated On: July 18, 2016)

A Victorian building company has been fined $300,000 over a workplace incident which resulted in a carpenter losing his life.

Carpenter, and father of two, Michael Klanja, died after a strong wind blew over a brick wall and crushed him while he was working as a contractor at a Brighton East construction site.

The Victorian County Court heard the building company had the bricklayers lay the footings and two boundary walls of a rear unit, despite the fact the subfloor and frame had not yet been built. It is standard building practice for the subfloor and frame to be built first, to allow for exterior cladding (such as brickwork) to be properly supported.

By the time the boundary walls were completely installed, there was still no frame in place. The walls were also not braced internally or externally, which is needed in order to resist wind or harsh weather.

WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation found the company failed to consult the contracted engineers for guidance on temporarily bracing masonry walls, or the risks associated with leaving a wall unsupported. The lack of bracing on the wall meant its collapse was inevitable on a windy day.

The freestanding wall lasted for approximately ten days before strong weather caused it to collaspe on top of Mr Klanja, who later passed away in hospital.

Victorian County Court Judge, Jane Compton, ruled that the company should have been well aware the wall posed a serious risk, and its collapse could have easily been avoided.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a safe work environment, and was fined $300,000.

“This incident could have been prevented if the employer followed the proper standards and ensured that the wall was braced,” claimed WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, “instead, it was left unsupported and unstable, endangering the safety of every worker on the site.”

Since January 2016, there have already been 15 work related fatalities across Australia. This number is far too high, and it is every employer’s responsibility to ensure they are taking necessary steps to provide and maintain a safe working environment for their employees.

If you have any questions regarding health and safety practices in your business, contact Employsure on 1300 651 415. Our team of specialised Work Health and Safety Consultants can assist you with ensuring your workplace is a safe one. Call us today.

Sourced from Safety Culture.

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