A court has slapped fines worth $330,000 on a shopfitting business and its director over the death of an employee in 2017 who fell more than two metres at a construction site.
WorkSafe Victoria said that Entire Shopfitting Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $300,000 by the Melbourne County Court after it pleaded guilty to failing to provide or maintain systems for a safe work environment, and for not preparing a Safe Work Method Statement before starting “high-risk construction work”.
Meanwhile, the safety regulator said the company’s director, John Paul Kenneally, was personally fined $30,000 without a conviction being recorded after he pleaded guilty to one count of failing to take reasonable care.
The case related to an accident that occurred on 19 May 2017, when two of the company’s employees were instructed to begin framing works on the mezzanine level of a new indoor children’s play centre.
According to WorkSafe Victoria, an unnamed 55-year-old worker climbed a stepladder that was positioned near the edge of the mezzanine, which had not been protected by guarding after the balustrade was removed as part of the works.
It said that one leg of the ladder went through a cut-out in the floor, tipping the employee over the mezzanine edge and onto the ground more than two metres below. He later died in the hospital as a result of the injuries he sustained in the fall.
“The combination of a ladder and an unguarded void is a deadly one,” WorkSafe’s health and safety executive director, Julie Nielsen, said.
“There is no excuse for failing to protect workers from falls from height. The risks are well known and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who do not control them.”
The regulator said that employers can help to prevent such falls from occurring by using solid construction frameworks; fall-prevention devices such as scaffolds, guardrails and safety mesh, and also safety nets or catch platforms to prevent injury should a fall occur.
My Business attempted to reach Mr Kenneally for comment; however, the company’s website is no longer live. The person who answered a call to the phone number listed for Entire Shopfitting said it was no longer located on that number.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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