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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.
Date: 
Tuesday, 5 March, 2019 - 13:15
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Western Australia

A scaffolding company has been fined $90,000 and ordered to pay $2100 in costs over the death of a worker who fell through a skylight in the roof of the stadium.

Perth Aluminium Scaffolds pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and was fined in Perth Magistrates Court.

In June 2016, HBF Stadium operator VenuesWest contracted a painting company to undertake external painting work on the stadium, and this company in turn subcontracted Perth Aluminium Scaffolds to erect and remove scaffolding on the stadium roof.

The painting work included painting steel masts and stays on the roof of the stadium, and Perth Aluminium Scaffolds had erected scaffolding between the masts on the roof to give the painters access to the masts and wires.

On the morning of June 8, four Perth Aluminium Scaffolds employees were dismantling this scaffolding when one of them stepped on a skylight and fell around 11 metres through a void area to the concrete concourse below.

The court heard that the scaffolders working on the roof had not been provided with a site-specific safety induction, a job safety analysis or safe work method statement specific to the work they were doing that day, or any information identifying the skylights as a hazard, or even identifying the skylights at all.

No rails or barriers – either permanent or temporary – had been placed around the skylights, and they were not fitted with safety mesh.

Skylights in older buildings are generally classified as fragile roofing, and Perth Aluminium Scaffolds was obligated to inform workers of any brittle or fragile areas, to provide workers with a safe working platform and safe access and to provide barriers and warning signage and training and instruction on the precautions to be taken.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the case was another tragic reminder of the hazard presented by brittle or fragile sections of roofs and employers’ obligations in relation to them.

“This case illustrates the crucial importance of having safe systems in place when undertaking work on a roof area,” Kavanagh said.

“Perth Aluminium Scaffolds had a clear duty of care under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect the workers on the roof from accessing a fragile or brittle area.

“Where brittle or fragile roofing materials form any part of a roof, people accessing the roof need to be informed and be provided with a safe system of work, along with instructions or training about the safe system of work to be used.

“The court heard that very little was done by the venue operator or Perth Aluminium Scaffolds to provide a safe workplace for these workers, and the result was absolutely devastating for the family, friends and workmates of the worker who lost his life.”

VenuesWest was also prosecuted in relation to this incident and was also fined $90,000.