WorkSafe Victoria recently warned the construction industry to do more to ensure safety standards are maintained following a series of incidents and subsequent prosecutions.
The incidents, in which workers were either injured or killed, also caused considerable damage and disruption, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
Two recent construction industry prosecutions involved scaffolding at the site of a major collapse at Prahran in 2009.
SMS Scaffolding faced the Melbourne Magistrates court over the incident, which injured three people and caused havoc in Commercial Road in February 2009.
WorkSafe told Melbourne Magistrate Jan Maclean that SMS failed to ensure the scaffolding was stable and built in accordance with the engineering design and Australian Standards.
The company pleaded guilty to two charges and was convicted and fined $140,000 for failing to take care for the safety of its own employees and people other than its employees.
Another recent prosecution resulted in a conviction and $250,000 fine for Australian Aluminium Shopfitters after a worker fell seven stories to his death in South Melbourne.
The company was convicted on three charges as a result of the January 2010 incident.
Magistrate Duncan Reynolds heard that a man was working from a mobile work platform called a ‘chariot’, which allowed workers to install and seal windows outside the building, when he and the device fell.
WorkSafe’s subsequent investigation found a prop to stabilise the platform was not in place.
Two of the charges related to the company’s failure to control the risk of death or serious injury to the man who died, while a third related to the risks posed to members of the public who were at risk of being hit by the falling equipment.
WorkSafe’s general manager of operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said employers and workers should look closely at how safety improvements can reduce the chance of injuries and as well as the risk of legal action.
“We frequently hear in court that there’s been some sort of cultural shift in organisations as a result of serious incidents. Unfortunately, it has generally come as a result of a death or serious injury,” she said.