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Builders fined $105,000 over Sunshine Coast work safety hazard

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 25 May, 2022 - 12:00
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Queensland

Two Queensland building companies and their directors have been fined a total of $105,000 over unsafe work practices on a Sunshine Coast project more than seven years ago.

In the Noosa Magistrates Court, the two companies were fined a total of $95,000. The fines for the two directors totalled $10,000.

After a trial, all defendants were found guilty of breaching Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to comply with their health and safety duty exposing workers to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

The prosecutions followed a site inspection by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) which found inadequate edge fall protection for workers on a roof.

The court heard one company had engaged the other to remove roof sheets from a 5-metre-high commercial shed.

Before starting there was an agreement that an elevated work platform was to be positioned parallel to the shed, with the platform raised to be alongside the gutter and roof edge.

The sheeting was to be carried by workers walking along the screw line on the surface of the roof towards the edge where the elevated work platform was located.

As workers approached the roof’s edge, they were to put the old sheets on the elevated work platform. Once a number of sheets had been placed on it, the elevated work platform was then to be lowered to the ground so the materials could be removed.

The platform would then be raised to the roof level again and the process repeated until the job was finished.

On 5 December 2014, a WHSQ inspector visited the site and saw the workers on the roof, a ladder located to a side, and an elevated work platform (the floor of which was level with the roofline at the front of the roof).

The only form of edge protection or other fall prevention method used was the moveable elevated work platform which did not provide edge protection when it was lowered.

In sentencing the defendants, Magistrate Chris Callaghan acknowledged the prevalence of breaches of this type, noting that it is still the same offence even if no injury resulted. It was significant that, fortunately, no one was injured as a result of the offence.

A conviction was recorded against Multi-Run Roofing, the company which did the actual work, with Magistrate Callaghan ordering costs of $7699 to be split between the four defendants.