Mainline Developments Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court to four charges over safety breaches during the construction of a residential complex at Narre Warren.
The charges relate to numerous and repeated safety breaches as observed by WorkSafe inspectors on six separate visits to the site between 15 January and 15 March 2018.
The court heard Mainline repeatedly failed to implement most of the reasonably practicable control measures identified in the 10 improvement notices issued by WorkSafe inspectors during the visits.
The safety breaches included a lack of controls to prevent workers from falling from the balconies, first floors and roofs of the town houses under construction, and workers using sections of scaffolding with missing planks.
According to WorkSafe, multiple trucks were observed reversing into oncoming traffic to enter the site via a busy single-lane road and unloading without any traffic management to reduce the safety risks.
“The site had poor general housekeeping including open trenches, unhygienic toilet facilities without water or toilet paper and no meals area or facilities for workers,” the agency said.
Furthermore, inspectors found the site lacked a safe system of work in relation to electricity and had a number of tripping hazards from excess debris and general rubbish in access areas.
The company was on Friday fined $50,000 for failing to ensure the means of entering and leaving a workplace was safe; $40,000 for failing to provide a safe working environment; $25,000 for failing to comply with improvement notices; and $10,000 for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks.
In sentencing, the judge took into account the company’s two prior convictions from 2016 relating to working at height and traffic management issues.
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen said the company’s blatant disregard of its duty to provide a safe workplace for its employees was abhorrent.
“All of the problems identified at this site could have been easily fixed at relatively little cost, but the company instead repeatedly ignored directives to fix them and has now suffered the consequences,” Ms Nielsen said.
Ms Nielsen said the convictions and fines should send a strong message to all employers that it’s not just a workplace injury or death that can get them in trouble.
“Everyone has the right to be safe at work and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who expose their workers to potential serious injury or death, even when that risk does not eventuate.”