Renewed​ focus on falls from height prevention after Victorian worker’s death

Renewed​ focus on falls from height prevention after Victorian worker’s death

A Melbourne construction company has been fined $275,000 following the death of a painter who fell 3.46 metres through a stair void at a Mornington Peninsula building site.

VCON Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to contravening section 26 of the OHS Act when it failed to ensure that the workplace was safe and without risks to health, but was found guilty and convicted of the offence.

The court heard that in February of 2017, the painter was working on the first floor when he fell through the void and landed on a tiled ground floor. Despite being transported quickly to hospital, he later died of his injuries.

Following a WorkSafe investigation, it was found that the wooden handrail near where the painter had been working became partially dislodged from one of its clamps.

Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety said exposing workers to the risks of falls from height was unacceptable.

“Falls from height continue to be a leading cause of serious injuries and death in Victorian workplaces,” Ms Nielsen said.

“As the holidays approach and many employers are rushing to get work finished, this tragic incident is a reminder of the dangers working at height involves.

“WorkSafe inspectors are currently focussing on the risk of falls from heights when they visit construction sites and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where they see that a risk is not adequately being controlled.”

To prevent falls from height employers can:

• Eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.

They can also:

• 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.
• Use a fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.
• Use a fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.

For up-to-date information from WorkSafe Victoria about safety at heights and preventing falls from height in the construction industry click here.

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