The risk that workers on construction sites are exposed to are numerous which is why safety training is such an important requirement.
One incident which should serve as a warning to other companies took place a few years ago, but the lesson is still true today. WorkCover have recently completed a series of prosecutions against a number of companies involved in an accident on a construction site in Western Sydney.
The incident happened on the 28th of August 2009 when a 54 year old labourer was moving building materials between floors as part of a housing development project in Auburn. The worker fell through an uncovered hole in the floor. The fall caused the worker to plummet 4 metres and hit the concrete floor below, sustained serious injuries to his head and brain.
The companies involved with the construction project as well as their directors were held liable and fined a total of $330,500.
The incident is a warning to companies involved in construction not to negate their responsibilities or assume that safety is someone else’s responsibility. Every builder involved needs to value the safety of workers over productivity and take the necessary steps to ensure workers are not placed at risk.
WorkCover warned that it is critically-important that all people involved in work are provided with appropriate training and instruction and that the company provides adequate supervision.
The following excerpt from a post on WorkCover.NSW.gov.au explains what happened:
The labourer suffered severe head and brain injuries, tissue damage and bruising and required emergency surgery at Westmead Hospital to relieve pressure on the brain caused by a brain haemorrhage.
Multiplus Group Pty Ltd (Multiplus), the developer and manager of the construction at the site, and its director were the last of a group of defendants charged in relation to the incident.
Multiplus and its director were charged with breaching the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000. Both the company and its director pleaded guilty. Multiplus was fined $110,000 and its director was fined $11,000 by the Industrial Court of NSW on 16 August 2013.
WorkCover’s investigation found the failure to implement and maintain safety procedures, such as covering or sectioning off the exhaust hole with barricades, resulted in the serious injuries.
Even though the size of the construction project meant that there were a number of companies involved they all shared in the responsibility for ensuring this worker’s safety.
As the article explained all the companies involved made a number of failures when it comes to site safety and on their website highlighted in particular that the companies:
Failed to ensure that the penetration was securely covered
Failed to conduct an inspection of the penetration to ensure that it was securely covered
Failed to warn people about the risk of falling through an open penetration
Failed to conduct a risk assessment regarding working in the vicinity of an open unsecured penetration and failed to implement appropriate control measures to address these risks.