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Tingalpa construction given hefty fine for unsafe work practices


11 October 2021

A 50-year-old Tingalpa construction company and its director have been fined $90,000 following a 2020 workplace incident that saw a man suffer a traumatic brain injury after a fall from height.

The defendants recently appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with failure to comply under the WHS Act 2011, exposing an individual to the risk of death or serious injury.

In April 2020, two workers were installing floorboards on the mezzanine level of an industrial shed, when one of them fell 3.3m onto the concrete. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, eight fractured ribs and a fractured scapula.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation revealed 20 metal purlins were bolted to a bearer at the front of the mezzanine level, but not bolted to the bearer at the rear of the mezzanine level. Some, but not all, of the metal purlins were welded to rear bearer and the unsecured purlins could easily move, creating a larger gap.

The investigation also found a Safe Work Method Statement was not in place for the work being done at height; steps hadn’t been taken to identify the risk of a fall from the mezzanine level and no measures were in place to eliminate or minimise the risk of a fall, such as guard rails, harnesses or personal protective equipment; and there was no appropriate and adequate training in safe practices for working at heights and risk of falls.

In sentencing, Magistrate Judith Daley took into consideration the family company’s unblemished history in construction, cooperation with the investigation, an early guilty plea and no previous convictions.

Magistrate Daley also noted the company had addressed the errant issues, including engaging a safety advisor to formalise safety procedures in the workplace.

Her Honour said that due to the serious nature of the offending, a Safe Work Method Statement could have eliminated or minimised the risks and the purlins should have been welded and the company should’ve done checks to make sure that work had been done.

Her Honour acknowledged the significant injuries suffered by the worker and the company’s continued support of him.

The company was fined $80,000, the director $10,000. No convictions were recorded.

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