Scaffolder fined $2000 after worker fall

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A Perth scaffolder has been fined $2000 (and ordered to pay $549 in costs) after a scaffold he erected collapsed and a worker fell and was injured.

Matthew Brian Allen pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of another person and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court last week.

Mr Allen, a licensed scaffolder and an employee of a scaffolding company, was working at a construction site in East Fremantle in September 2013 where a two-storey house was being built.

On instructions from his employer, Mr Allen added a third lift to the steel framed and planked scaffolding that had previously been erected around the building for the upper floor brickwork.

This third lift was provided to complete the external leaf of the upper floor cavity brick walls before being used by roof carpenters and roofers to pitch and sheet the roof.

Some days after the scaffold was erected, a bricklayer’s labourer was working on it and it collapsed under him.  The labourer’s left shoulder was dislocated in the resulting fall, and he subsequently underwent surgery.

Mr Allen had failed to tie the narrow frames of the scaffolding into the rest of the scaffold on the building, so they were effectively freestanding.  He had also fixed the hop-up brackets to the outside of the scaffold, contrary to accepted practice.

In addition, Mr Allen had failed to tie in the ends of the narrow frames and failed to install a 6.5 metre scaffold tube to tie the narrow frames together and provide rigidity to the scaffolding.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case was a reminder that the employer was not solely responsible for ensuring the safety and health of workers.

“Mr Allen, as an employee of a scaffolding company, was himself obliged to take reasonable care in erecting the scaffolding and the court found that he had not complied with this obligation,” Mr McCulloch said.

“He held a High Risk Work Licence in basic and advanced scaffolding and had done so for a number of years, so his employer had every reason to believe that he would complete the job to the standard required.

“The risks involved in failing to properly erect scaffolding – potential collapse of the scaffold leading to injury or even death – are well known in the industry.

“Mr Allen’s failure to erect the scaffold on this job in a stable manner led to a completely avoidable injury.

“The incident should serve as a warning to all scaffolders to check and re-check the stability of the structure and not risk an injury to fellow workers, a visit to court and a sizeable fine.”

Further information:

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

Media release
26 Oct 2015

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