An employer in Melbourne has been fined under section 26 of the Victorian OHS Act (which imposes a similar duty as the ACT WHS Act) for breaching workplace management and control following a heavy object falling 160m without any injuries sustained.
The employer, Hickory Collins House Pty Ltd was the principal contractor of the high-rise residential development in Melbourne and pleaded guilty to breaching section 26 (“Duties of persons who manage or control workplaces”) of the Victorian OHS Act which provides that
‘A person who (whether as an owner or otherwise) has, to any extent, the management or control of a workplace must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it are safe and without risks to health.’
The incident occurred in February 2019 after a 32kg floor prop feel from level 56, landing on the amenities shed on level 3.
The western boundary and north-western corner of Level 56 was protected by a 1.2 metre precast wall which failed to prevent the 2775mm long prop which was top heavy, from falling over the edge from its position when being removed. This defied the normal procedure not to remove Doka floor props until construction had progressed to at least one floor above and the external façade had been erected to the next storey up.
The Court found the employer failed to reduce risks to health and safety by not installing additional precast panels on top of the applicable precast-panel wall before the prop was removed or installing perimeter safety screens along this boundary of level 56 of the workplace.
The employer was fined $30,000 without conviction plus $7,412 in costs after the Court heard it responded to the incident with immediate and appropriate remedial action.