Construction company fined $600,000 over Rottnest building collapse

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A construction company has been fined $600,000 over serious injuries suffered by two workers at a construction site on Rottnest Island.

Firm Construction Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to the two workers, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday.

In February 2020, workers employed by contractors to Firm Construction were engaged in construction work on the Hotel Rottnest Resort Development when temporary formwork for a suspended first floor concrete slab collapsed to the floor below.

A worker was struck by the falling formwork and concrete and suffered fractures to his vertebrae and sternum, lacerations and chemical burns.

Another worker was on top of the formwork when it collapsed and fell approximately four and a half metres to ground level. He suffered fractures to his vertebrae and ankle and chemical burns.

Another worker suffered less serious injuries, and five other workers working nearby escaped injury.

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said Firm Construction had failed to have the upper-floor formwork designed and subsequently approved by an engineer before the concrete was poured.

“The relevant Australian Standard to which the laws referred required detailed engineering plans for all formwork, along with an engineer’s inspection of the completed formwork,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“In addition, the company’s own risk register specified that erected formwork had to be approved by an engineer, but they did not follow their own written rules, and three injured workers and a large fine were the consequences.

“It was reasonably practicable for Firm Construction to have temporary formwork designed and certified by an engineer and to then ensure that it was signed off by an engineer before the concrete was poured.

“WA’s construction industry safely and compliantly completes a huge number of multi-level projects every year. This case highlights the serious risks that exist when the work is not done properly.”

His Honour Magistrate Lemmon acknowledged the serious injuries suffered by the workers and the ongoing physical and psychological effects on them, and commented that the incident could have been easily and cheaply avoided.

He said there was a plan to manage the risk that included the involvement of an engineer, but the plan simply wasn’t followed.

He concluded by saying the penalty needed to send a message of deterrence to the community and warn that a significant financial penalty will be involved for any similar offending.

Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney, 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media queries only).

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Media release
06 Jul 2023

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