VIC: developer fined $75,000 for multiple safety breaches

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.
Wednesday, 25 August, 2021 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions

A Melbourne developer that repeatedly failed to address safety issues at a Doncaster building site has been convicted and ordered to pay fines totalling $75,000.

Pacific Land Consolidated Pty Ltd, which did not attend the hearing at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on 11 August, was convicted of 16 breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company was convicted and fined a total of $21,000 for seven charges of failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risk to health and fined a further combined $36,000 for six charges of failing to comply with improvement notices.

Pacific Land Consolidated was also convicted and fined $12,000 for two charges of failing to produce documents and convicted and fined $6000 for one charge of refusing or failing to comply with a requirement to produce documents to an inspector.

The court heard that between April 2018 and February 2019, WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visited the townhouse development 12 times, identifying a number of health and safety risks and issuing 18 improvement notices.

The company failed to comply with eight of those notices and failed on seven occasions to control the risks associated with working at heights above two metres.

The safety breaches included:

  • Workers using a makeshift work platform of trestles and aluminium planks while working on a first-floor balcony, which had an unprotected edge.
  • Sub-contractors working on the first-floor roof accessing materials positioned about 50cm from the unprotected roof edge.
  • A plumber working on the second-floor roof with no falls protection in place.
  • A sub-contractor installing roofing sheets on the first floor required to work near unprotected edges.
  • Workers using stairs to access the second floor with no guardrails around the stairs or second-floor landing.

A WorkSafe investigation was launched in February 2019, during which the company failed to comply with requirements to provide documents and information.

The case showed a shocking disregard for workplace health and safety, said WorkSafe Victoria acting executive director of health and safety Andrew Keen.

“The number of safety breaches at this workplace is just staggering and the company’s failure to address many of the issues shows a complete disregard for workers’ health and safety,” he said.

“This case highlights that WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action, even when no incident has occurred, to ensure duty holders are doing everything they can to keep workers safe.”