Building company fined $620,000 after fatal brick wall incident

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Tuesday, 9 June, 2020 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions
New South Wales

A building company and its subcontractors were fined a total of $620,000 for breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after a brick wall fell on two men, killing one and injuring another at a building site in the suburb of Carlingford in Sydney.

NSW Bricklaying Pty Ltd was fined $500,000, while Effective Building and Construction Pty Ltd was fined $60,000, and another company director, Jianen Wang, was also fined $60,000 following a prosecution by SafeWork NSW.

Employers need to do all they can to protect workers and ensure they dot their I’s and cross their T’s when it comes to high-risk construction work, said Valerie Griswold, SafeWork NSW executive director of investigation and enforcement.

“Each party responsible failed to apply appropriate risk management and safety measures, ultimately failing in their duty to protect workers,” Griswold said.

In 2017, EBC was contracted to build a two-storey duplex at a site in Carlingford. The company hired WZY Development Pty Ltd and its director, Mr Wang, to manage activities.

In May 2017, Mr Wang engaged NSW Bricklaying to build a wall to divide the duplexes. The company built a 6.5 metre wall that was subsequently found to have been inadequately braced.

On August 16, two carpenters were working near the base of the wall. It was a poor weather day with wind speeds of up to 74 km/h recorded.

The wall fell on top of the pair, pinning them both. One worker was unresponsive and died at the scene, while the other suffered scratch marks to his face and was treated for shock.

“Risks assessments were not completed at this site, nor were temporary supports installed, safe work method statements implemented, or adequate supervision provided to workers,” Griswold said.

“All of these things put the workers on site at significant risk.”

“The SafeWork NSW codes of practice outlines how to manage construction risks in line with the legislation and all employers are responsible for complying with this guidance.”

Effective Building and Construction, NSW Bricklaying and Mr Wang have the right to appeal their sentences.