Supervisor fined $7500 over fall through skylight

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The Operation Manager of a roofing company has been fined $7500 (and ordered to pay costs of $517) after a labourer was seriously injured in a fall through a skylight.

Charles Roy Farmer pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting another person and, by that failure, causing serious harm and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court on June 26..

In September 2015, Mr Farmer was the Operation Manager for Deslin Pty Ltd, trading as Roofing 2000, and supervisor of the roofing works taking place at 378 Canning Highway, Bicton.

Refurbishment work was being done on the roof of a 30 to 40-year-old building with brick walls and a roof comprised of steel beams covered with metal roofing sheets.  Half the roof was of portal frame construction, and a new roof was to be placed over the existing sheet covering.

Mr Farmer’s role as site supervisor included directing, overseeing and supervising the roofing work, including risk assessment and occupational safety and health.

On the day of the fall, two roof plumbers were removing rusted metal roof sheets from the existing portal frame roof, and another roof plumber and the roof labourer were cleaning up metal offcuts and insulation spread around the roof.

On the roof on which the men were working were several fragile skylights.  These skylights had been identified by Mr Farmer, but he did not ensure a safe work procedure was in place that required the workers on the roof to use a fall injury prevention system.

Sometime between 1.00pm and 2.00pm, the roof labourer was standing on a loose insulation roll next to the edge of a skylight.  He was not aware of the skylight and took a step back.

He lost his balance and fell through the 800mm x 800mm acrylic moulded skylight.  He fell approximately five metres from the existing portal frame roof to the concrete floor below, sustaining multiple fractures and other serious injuries.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the incident should serve as a reminder of the vital importance of guarding against falls in workplaces.

“The worker involved in this incident was very fortunate not to have lost his life in the five-metre fall,” Mr McCulloch said.

“Over the past 10 years, 31 Western Australian workers have lost their lives as the result of work-related falls, five of these during the 2016/17 financial year.

“Add to this the number of workers who have sustained permanent and life-changing injuries in falls, and the size of the problem becomes apparent.

“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.

“Where construction work involves a risk of a person falling more than two metres, the main contractor/building owner must ensure that a Safe Work Method Statement is prepared before the work begins.

“In addition, the Code of Practice – Prevention of Falls at Workplaces has been in use in WA since 2004, and should be followed by anyone who has a duty to prevent falls at workplaces.

“This code provides practical advice on the safe systems of work that should be in place where the risk of falls exists.

“Employers need to be aware of all the laws involved when there is a fall risk at their workplace and ensure they have suitable safe work procedures in place.”

Further information on safe work at heights and the code of practice 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)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
07 Jul 2017

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