Demolition Company Fined $75,000 After Work Falls Through Skylight, Fractures Spine

Published August 09, 2019 (last updated July 17, 2020) -

A demolition company has been fined $75,000 by the Melbourne Magistrates Court after one of their employees fell through a skylight while working on a house.

The employee fell 2.5m onto a concrete floor, fracturing his spine and suffering serious head trauma and post traumatic amnesia.

The court was told the worker fell through the sky light, part of the carport’s roof, while he was carrying a bundle of debris.

The worker was carrying debris as the site foreman had instructed workers to throw debris from the carport into a truck that was parked in front of the house. This instruction was contrary to the Safe Work Method Statement agreed for the worksite.

In addition, there was no guard or fall protection in place and employees were at risk of serious injury or death from the falling through the unguarded skylight.

The court also heard that the Safe Work Method Statement was reasonable in requesting debris be throw into a skip bin below the edge of the balcony, as risk of serious injury or death was reduced due to there being guards on the balcony’s side.

WorkSafe Health and Safety Executive Director Julie Nielsen sounded a warning to employers, saying there was no excuse for leaving workers exposed to falls.

“Sadly this worker has suffered life changing injuries because safety controls were not properly followed,” Ms Nielsen said.

“Safe Work Method Statements are there to ensure every worker on site knows how to undertake tasks safely and they should not be ignored or changed without agreement.”

“Falling from height can have catastrophic consequences and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control the associated risks.”

Employsure’s Steven Hoyle reminds employers that are three easy steps to complying with Safe Work Safety Method.

“Once you have your SWMS, you must comply with it. No ifs, no buts. If your SWMS isn’t being followed correctly, stop work. Three, if it looks like the control measures aren’t good enough, re-assess.

“Catch platforms, travel-restraint systems, safety nets, to your scaffolds, perimeter screens, safety mesh, and guardrails. All of these systems being available means falls should be very rare.”

Related: Creating A Safe Workplace [Infographic]

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