WorkSafe WA: Electrical retailer fined $90,000 over fall death

Thursday, 16 August, 2012 - 10:00
Incidents & prosecutions

WorkSafe WA have reported that the operator of a Betta Electrical and Gas store has been fined $90,000 following the  death of a worker who fell 2.75 metres through the ceiling of their Mandurah store in 2010.

WorkSafe WA advise that Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd - trading as Betta Electrical & Gas - pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing the death of a worker.

The WorkSafe WA website report advises that the ceiling of the showroom section of the premises was built at a height of 2.75 metres and that prior to 2007, a small section of the showroom ceiling had been used to store boxes. However, this had caused the ceiling to sag and a chipboard shelf had been built at the rear of the showroom on which to store boxes.

The shelf was not designed for people to stand on - it was intended only for the storage of empty boxes - but staff believed they had been required to stand on the shelf from time to time to retrieve boxes.

In September 2010, two store workers went to the rear of the store to look for a washing machine box, which they found positioned half on the shelf and half on the showroom ceiling.

One worker could not reach the box from his position on top of a fridge box, so another worker placed the step ladder on top of an empty box and climbed onto the shelf to pass down empty boxes.

The worker on the shelf fell through the showroom ceiling onto the showroom floor, suffering fatal injuries.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the case should serve as a reminder that safe work procedures must be in place, especially when there is a risk of a worker falling from height and urged any employer in control of a workplace that presents a risk of falls to ensure safe systems of work are in place.

More information can be found from the WorkSafe WA website.