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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 - 11:30
Incidents & prosecutions
National News

A Melbourne construction company has been convicted and fined $275,000 following the death of a painter who fell more than three metres through a stair void at a Mornington Peninsula building site.

VCON pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to contravening section 26 of the OHS Act when it failed to ensure that the workplace was safe and without risks to health, and the company was also ordered to pay $7,500 in costs.

The court heard that the painter was working on the first floor when he fell through the void and landed on the tiled ground floor in February, 2017, and he was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found a wooden handrail at the edge of the first floor void near where the painter was working had been partially dislodged from one of its clamps.

WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said exposing workers to the risks of falls from height was unacceptable.

“Falls from height continue to be a leading cause of serious injuries and death in Victorian workplaces,” Nielsen said.

“As the holidays approach and many employers are rushing to get work finished, this tragic incident is a reminder of the dangers working at height involves.

“WorkSafe inspectors are currently focusing on the risk of falls from heights when they visit construction sites and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where they see that a risk is not adequately being controlled.”

To prevent falls from height employers can eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction and use a:

  • Passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system.
  • Fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.
  • Fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.