Three NSW men have been fined a total of $51,500 and ordered to pay WorkCover NSW's legal costs after a labourer suffered crush injuries when the walls of a seven-metre-deep excavation collapsed on top of him at a Liverpool construction site.
Two directors of Reica Construction (a construction company formerly known as Hightrade Construction), Wen Zhang and Lian Zhang, and a manager employed by Auxon, Wei Du, were engaged in the construction of a nine-storey block of units.
On 18 March 2006 a 28-year-old labourer suffered nerve damage and fractures to his left leg and ankle when he was removing concrete moulds from the excavation and the walls collapsed and buried him up to his waist.
It took rescue crews around four hours before the seriously injured man could be safely evacuated.
The companies entered into liquidation shortly after the incident.
WorkCover's investigation found the company had failed to: properly support the walls of the excavated ditch; failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment; failed to prevent people from working in the vicinity of the excavation; and failed to implement other geotechnical recommendations that would have made the site safer.
All three were found guilty in the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court in Sydney of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000.
The court action follows several investigations into Hightrade's activities by WorkCover, and John Watson, general manager of WorkCover NSW's work health and safety division, said safety for workers should be the highest priority for all employers, especially those working on construction sites.
"Employers should be consulting with workers about how best to control specific risks on a worksite and about the development of safe work procedures for all tasks," he said.
"This is especially important in the construction industry where there are well known safety risks.
"There was a serious risk to the safety of this worker at the site and steps should have been taken to prevent the incident and resulting injuries."