SA: company fined $133,000 after worker struck by falling ramp

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.
Tuesday, 24 August, 2021 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions
South Australia

A demolition company in South Australia has been convicted and fined $133,000 after a worker was struck by a falling ramp of a low loader trailer in 2019.

City Demolition and Earthmoving Pty Ltd was sentenced in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) after being found guilty of failing to provide safe plant and a safe system of work.

In March 2019 a worker was performing work inside the drop zone of the 230kg ramps of a low loader trailer when the ramps fell suddenly due to a failure of the hydraulic ram system.

The worker suffered serious injuries including fractures to the spine, pelvis, ankles, legs and ribs, as well as soft tissue damage.

SafeWork SA investigations identified that the incident could have been avoided had an assessment of hazards and risks been undertaken and appropriate control measures adopted to eliminate or minimise the risk.

Deputy President Lieschke noted the expert opinion report submitted about the safety of ramps with the “suggestion that an inexpensive stop or burst control valve inserted in the hydraulic lines could have prevented the sudden loss of pressure and the unexpectedly falling ramp”.

SafeWork SA further identified that the state of the webbing on safety chains was damaged more than 10 per cent across its width and was not compliant with the relevant Australian Standard.

City Demolition and Earthmoving was charged with:

  • exposing a worker to risk of serious injury or death
  • failing to provide and maintain plant in a safe condition
  • failing to provide a safe system of work.

The company pleaded guilty in the South Australia Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of their duties under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

The South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) convicted the company and imposed a fine of $133,000 ($200,000 before 30 per cent discount for early guilty plea) plus costs.

“There is no excuse for failing to conduct any form of risk assessment and if they had, they could easily have eliminated the risk,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell.

“Construction is a high-risk industry and it is the responsibility of employers to provide a safe work environment and ensure plant and machinery are well-maintained and fit-for-purpose.

Every worker deserves to go to work and return home safely.”