Building company fined $15,000 over collapse of tilt-up panels.
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A building company has been fined $15,000 over the collapse of four concrete tilt-up panels at a Perth construction site in 2008.
Morago Nominees Pty Ltd as trustee for Gavin Homes pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the removal of temporary bracing of the concrete panels was in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court last week.
The four panels fell into the lift shaft/stairwell area of a four-storey building under construction in Newcastle Street, Perth in December 2008. Four people were working in the vicinity at the time, but none was seriously injured.
In tilt-up construction, large pre-cast concrete panels that form the structure of a building are supported by temporary braces or props until the structure is capable of supporting the loads applied to the panels.
When this incident occurred, four labourers were working with the panels, and they removed six braces before the panels collapsed. The labourers ran out of the way of the collapsing panels.
The relevant Australian Standard requires that tilt-up structures be inspected to ensure the structure is safe prior to braces being removed. This inspection is usually carried out by the designer or an authorised agent, and written approval to remove the braces given to the builder.
The panels were not inspected to ensure it was safe to remove the braces, and no written approval was given to do so. The court heard that at the time of the incident, it was not the company's usual practice to obtain approval before removing braces, contrary to the Australian Standard.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case should serve as yet another reminder not to take tilt-up construction lightly and to ensure all safety measures were in place.
"Tilt-up construction is high-risk work and the regulations are there to ensure that the risks are avoided, or at least kept to a minimum," Mr McCulloch said. "In this case, there was a high risk of serious injury or even death if any of the labourers had been struck by the falling panels.
"With work like this, it is imperative that everyone understands their role and at what stage in the process it is safe to remove the bracing so the panels do not collapse.
"An enormous amount of time and resources has been invested in lessening the risks involved in tilt-up construction over recent years, and it is disappointing to see that some operators are still not complying with the laws.
"We have seen the tragic consequences of not sticking strictly to the laws where tilt-up construction is concerned, and everyone involved in the industry needs to ensure that safety is the top priority on site.
"A comprehensive code of practice on tilt-up and precast concrete construction has been available for some years, and copies of the current code should be made available on all sites where tilt-up work is taking place."
The site supervisor on the construction site was fined $6000 over this incident in July 2011.
Further information on tilt-up and precast concrete construction is available by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au. Copies of the National Code of Practice for Precast, Tilt-up and Concrete Elements in Building Construction can be downloaded from the website.
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