Queensland’s first Category 1 prosecution for ‘reckless conduct’

A Queensland company has been fined $1 million and the company director sentenced to one year in prison following a death from a fall from height.

We’re sharing this information, not to call attention to the people involved, but because it’s a stark warning for all facility owners and managers regarding the serious consequences if the correct rooftop practices aren’t followed.

Sunshine Coast company Multi-Run Roofing were the principal contractor engaged to re-roof the sheds at the Old Brickworks in Cooroy in 2014. They chose not to install edge-protection for the work, instead opting to use the rails of scissor lifts as a barrier alongside the roof edge.

The roofers had planned for the worker nearest to the drop to wear a safety harness. However, 62-year-old Whareheepa Te Amo wasn’t wearing a harness when he fell almost six metres while working on the unprotected roof edge. The incident resulted in his death.

For failing to recognise their duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Multi-Run roofing were found guilty of exposing site workers to the risk of death or serious injury.

The court found that their chosen safety system was flawed due to its narrow margin for error. The adopted method relied on the diligence of workers – a tough call given that the work they were carrying out was repetitive.

Inspection of the site determined that edge protection was available to the roofers. If the safety equipment had been installed instead of using a risky workaround, it would have prevented the worker from falling and sadly, losing his life.

Timeframes and budgets are often tight in the construction industry. No matter what the circumstances, compliance with legislation and worker safety must never be compromised. There is no excuse for cutting corners, taking risks and endangering lives.

Story source: Worksafe.gov.au.