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Scaffolding interference results in $8000 fine for roofer


22 September 2023

A roofer has been fined $8000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, after failing to take reasonable care on a construction site, exposing other workers to a risk of death or serious injury.

In 2021, the defendant and a co-worker were engaged to install guttering and downpipes at a Brisbane construction site.

The defendant, who had been inducted and had the site rules explained to him, which included a prohibition of altering or interfering with scaffolding, modified the already erected scaffolding without approval or notification to the site manager.

Approximately seven workers, including himself and his co-worker, used the altered scaffolding to carry out work at the construction site between August and October 2021.

In October, a painter was sitting on the altered scaffolding painting an external wall when the plank dislodged, causing him to fall approximately four metres to a scissor lift below. The worker sustained serious internal injuries requiring hospitalisation and ongoing treatment.

By altering the scaffolding, voids were created where the planks and tie bars had been removed and the remaining planks could rotate and dislodge.

The defendant, who was 24 at the time of the offending, told the court his decision to alter the scaffolding was made when he believed the scaffolding was to be removed from site in the near future.

The court hear the Magistrate took into account the defendant's guilty plea as an indication of remorse and cooperation with the administration of justice.

The court also heard the impact the offending had on the injured worker’s health and wellbeing, the burden on his family, the fact he was unable to engage in sport and socially and understandably the impact on his mental health. He was also unable to return to work for a significant period.

The Magistrate also referenced that the purpose of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is to ensure people can work with safety risks eliminated or reduced.

In relation to the circumstances of the offending, the Magistrate highlighted the defendant’s actions were deliberate in that he removed the scaffolding to install the downpipes, knowing it was against the site rules.

Her Honour imposed a $8,000 fine plus costs of $1500 with no conviction recorded. This fine was referred to SPER.

Read more on the Scaffolding Code of Practice 2021.

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