Source: WorkSafe VIC

A Wattle Glen builder has been convicted and ordered to pay fines totalling $80,000 over a lack of fall protection, including for work at heights of more than 10 metres.

Prosam Building Services Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 8 February after being found guilty of four charges of failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

The company was fined $20,000 for each of three charges of failing to reduce the risk associated with a fall from height and a further $20,000 for performing high risk construction work without a safe work method statement (SWMS).

The company was also ordered to pay $6,211 in costs.

In June 2021, WorkSafe inspectors visited a St Kilda building site following reports that workers were on the second and third storey roofs without fall protection.

A worker was observed near the unguarded edge of the third storey roof, which was approximately 10.5 metres high, and accessing the roof via a scissor lift that required them to climb over the lift’s guardrails, with no measures in place to prevent falling while transitioning to or from the scissor lift.

Inspectors further observed workers accessing the third-storey addition via an internal extension ladder that extended through an opening, with no guardrail behind the opening and only a single top rail next to the opening despite the potential three-metre fall.

Workers were also found to be accessing the second storey north face of the building by climbing over a short terrace wall, with no edge protection provided to the second storey roof.

Prosam Building Services was unable to provide evidence that a SWMS had been prepared for the high risk construction work.

It was also reasonably practicable for the company to have reduced the risk by using a passive fall protection device, such as guardrails, on the second and third storey roofs and the void edges.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there were absolutely no excuses for such a careless approach to safety when working at heights.

“The risks of falls from height are well-recognised, yet sadly they remain one of the biggest causes of fatalities and serious injuries among Victorian construction industry workers,” Dr Beer said.

“Prevention measures such as guard rails are simple and cost-effective and can save lives.”

To prevent falls from height employers should:

  • Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

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