The importance of safety procedures when working at heights and on building sites has again been highlighted in a SafeWork case in NSW. In April of 2016, two men were seriously injured when they were using scaffolding without training, instructions or the necessary scaffolding equipment.
In 2016, MPMG FM Pty Ltd sent two of their employees to a Spotless Services Facility in Heathcote, to provide contracted painting and maintenance services. The employee was directed to construct scaffolding to complete the job and proceeded to prop the mobile scaffolding on timber found on the work site.
During the painting work (at an estimated height of five meters) the entire structure collapsed on the two workers, leaving them with serious injuries, including fractures, a punctured lung, contusions, lacerations and ongoing spine pain.
Following an investigation by SafeWork, District Court Judge Andrew Scotting determined that MPMG had negligently allowed workers to use mobile scaffolding in a dangerous condition without adequate training or certifications. He also found that the site manager was aware of the unsafe erection of the scaffolding and failed to inspect it or provide direction on correcting the procedure by which it was built.
As well as this, Judge Scotting found that MPMG had identified that their employees would require an elevated work platform to complete the work, but failed to supply one.
MPMG pleaded guilty to exposing their workers to a risk of serious injury from falling. Judge Scotting convicted the business, and they were fined $90,000 plus $40,000 in costs. Better Regulation Division Deputy Secretary Rose Webb said it “serves as a strong reminder to all businesses not to ignore their health and safety responsibilities” and that the case highlighted the need for employers to ensure that there was adequate alternative fall protection for workers working from height.