Government agency fined $90,000 over worker fall death
The State Government agency that operates HBF Stadium has been fined $90,000 (and ordered to pay $2100 in costs) over the death of a worker who fell through a skylight in the roof of the stadium.
Western Australian Sports Centre Trust – trading as VenuesWest – pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that persons at the workplace were not exposed to hazards, and was fined in Perth Magistrates Court today.
In June 2016, VenuesWest contracted a painting company to undertake external painting work on HBF Stadium, and this company in turn subcontracted scaffolding company Perth Aluminium Scaffolds Pty Ltd to erect and remove scaffolding on the stadium roof.
The painting work included painting steel masts and stays on the roof of the stadium, and Perth Aluminium Scaffolds had erected scaffolding between the masts on the roof to give the painters access to the masts and wires.
On the morning of June 8, four Perth Aluminium Scaffolds employees were dismantling this scaffolding when one of them stepped on a skylight and fell around 11 metres through a void area to the concrete concourse below.
The court heard that the scaffolders working on the roof had not been provided with a site-specific safety induction, a job safety analysis or safe work method statement specific to the work they were doing that day, or any information identifying the skylights as a hazard, or even identifying the skylights at all.
No rails or barriers – either permanent or temporary – had been placed around the skylights, and they were not fitted with safety mesh.
Skylights in older buildings are generally classified as fragile roofing, and VenuesWest was obligated to inform workers of any brittle or fragile areas, to provide workers with a safe working platform and safe access and to provide barriers and warning signage and training and instruction on the precautions to be taken.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said today the case was a tragic reminder of the hazard presented by brittle or fragile sections of roofs and employers’ obligations in relation to them.
“This case illustrates the crucial importance of having safe systems in place when undertaking work on a roof area,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“Insufficient effort was made to protect the workers on the roof from accessing a fragile or brittle area – this was in disregard of VenuesWest’s clear obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations.
“Where brittle or fragile roofing materials form any part of a roof, people accessing the roof need to be informed and be provided with a safe system of work along with instructions or training about the safe system of work to be used.
“The court heard that very little was done to provide a safe workplace for these workers, and the result was absolutely devastating for the family, friends and workmates of the worker who lost his life.
“I hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who is in charge of a workplace that includes brittle or fragile roofing or any other fall risk to be aware of all the laws involved and ensure they have suitable safe work procedures in place.”
Perth Aluminium Scaffolds Pty Ltd was also prosecuted in relation to this incident and was also fined $90,000.
Further information on fragile or brittle roofing and protection against fall risks can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.
Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only).
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