Two businesses fined $1.05 million over workplace fatal electrocution
The courts have sent a strong message to the building industry about the importance of workplace safety after a construction company and a roofing company pleaded guilty and were fined $600,000 and $450,000 following a fatal electrocution incident in 2019.
SafeWork Executive Director Compliance & Dispute Resolution Matthew Press said falls from heights were the leading cause of traumatic injuries and fatalities in the NSW construction industry, closely followed by contact with electricity.
“On the 11 February 2019, two labourers were removing steel handrails from the roof of a warehouse in Moorebank when a metal handrail contacted high voltage power lines nearby,” Mr Press said.
“The 25-year-old man holding the handrail fell onto his back and his workmate ran to his aid and tried to kick the handrail out of his hands.
“The 25-year-old sadly died on the roof and the other worker suffered serious burns to his legs.
“Yesterday, 14 September 2022, Riverwall Constructions Pty Ltd received a $600,000 fine and on 15 July 2022, Perry’s Roofing Pty Ltd received a $450,000 fine. Both were convicted in the District Court for failing to comply with their Work Health and Safety duty.
“This case is a reminder to all businesses involved in this type of work to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 , and the Codes of Practice for construction work and work near overhead power lines.
“Each year SafeWork NSW responds to many incidents where workers come into contact with to overhead power lines or are observed working too close to them.
“Businesses must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance of an overhead power line. To avoid these types of incidents, consult with the electricity supply authority to have the power isolated. They can assess the site and advise of appropriate controls that you should adhere to. If you can’t avoid working near overhead power lines, you need to properly assess and control the risks to workers.”
Small business owners and sole traders are reminded they can apply for a NSW Government rebate of up to $1,000 to make their workplaces safer with $1 million recently added to the Small Business Rebate Program. Further information about the Small Business Rebate Program.
Further information about workplace safety can be found on the SafeWork website.
Riverwall Constructions Pty Ltd was engaged to replace the damaged roof on which the workers were working. Riverwall oversaw the project at the site and subcontracted Perry’s Roofing Pty Ltd to replace the roof.
The two court judgements are available SafeWork NSW v Perry's Roofing Pty Ltd  NSWDC 261 and SafeWork NSW v Riverwall Constructions Pty Ltd  NSWDC 408. They have a right to appeal the sentence.