Port Adelaide manufacturer fined $100,000 over worker death

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, 22 August, 2022 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions
South Australia

A garage and carport company in South Australia has been fined $100,000 for WHS breaches after an employee suffered fatal injuries when he fell through a roof in December 2019.

The 51-year-old man was replacing roofing sheets with the company’s co-owner at its rented premises in Webb Street, Port Adelaide, when he fell 6.5 metres onto a concrete floor.

He did not have any formal training or licences for working from heights. In addition, he was not provided with any safety equipment and was working unsupervised at the time of the incident.

The company manufactures garages and sheds, and its co-owner has no formal training in manufacturing or safety.

Following a SafeWork SA investigation, the company was charged with three counts of breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (WHS Act) and failure to:

  • provide and maintain a safe working environment and exposing workers to risk of serious injury or death
  • perform adequate hazard identification and risk assessment processes related to working on the roof
  • provide instruction and supervision necessary to protect the worker from risks to his health and safety.

The company pleaded guilty to all three counts in the South Australia Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of its duties under section 32 of the WHS Act.

The Tribunal recorded a conviction against the company and imposed a fine of $100,000.

The company was also ordered to install a shed for Kura Yerlo Inc and a plaque dedicated to the deceased 51-year-old man.

Kura Yerlo Inc provides services that allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to learn a trade and work health and safety skills.

The company has also been ordered to arrange for one of its workers to undertake a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety within the next 12 months.

Judge Crawley said appropriate safety equipment including an arrest harness could have been hired at a cost of less than $700. Alternatively, he said the work could have been undertaken by a suitably qualified expert team for less than $4000.

“Working at heights is a frequent activity in various industries and the risk of serious injury or death resulting from a fall from a height is obvious,” said SafeWork SA executive director Martyn Campbell.

“It only takes a few hundred dollars to hire safety equipment for working from heights. In this case, the cost of not doing so was the tragic and untimely loss of life.”