Demolition company fined $100,000 after fatal wall collapse

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.
Monday, 19 July, 2021 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions

A demolition contractor in Victoria has been convicted and fined $100,000 following the death of a worker at a Ballarat building site in 2019.

Horsham Back-Hoe Hire was sentenced in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty on 28 May to one charge of failing to maintain a safe workplace.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $4213.

On 11 September 2019 a director of the family-run business was demolishing a fire damaged residential property at Mount Pleasant when he pushed over a timber support structure holding up a freestanding brick wall. This caused the wall to collapse, crushing him underneath.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable to have eliminated or reduced the risks by establishing and maintaining an exclusion zone around the live demolition area.

The incident was an absolute tragedy, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen.

“My heart goes out to this man’s family during what must be an incredibly difficult time,” Nielsen said.

“This case is a horrific reminder of why it is so important to stop and think about the work being undertaken and ensure risk control measures such as exclusion zones are in place.”