A building company has been fined $45,000 over an incident in which a worker fell approximately three metres through a concealed void at a construction site in Safety Bay.
Alcove Engineering & Construction Pty Ltd plead guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for a person who was not their employee, and was fined in the Rockingham Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.
Alcove Engineering was engaged as the main building contractor in late 2018 to undertake home renovation work at a property in Safety Bay involving the addition of a second storey.
The company also engaged a number of subcontractors, including a glass company that was to supply and install six double-glazed windows in the upstairs addition, and a carpentry company.
In January 2019, an employee of Alcove Engineering and a carpentry subcontractor went to the site to remove a 2.5m x 2.5m portion of the upper level mezzanine floor in preparation for the installation of stairs.
When the task was completed, the carpenter told the property owner he would fit an edge protection handrail to the void the next morning, before the expected arrival of glass company workers.
The property owner requested that a tarpaulin be put over the void to stop wind and rain from entering the lower level, and this was done by the carpenter after consultation with Alcove Engineering's site supervisor.
The ladder leading to the upper level was removed and the carpenter assured the site supervisor he would be back at around 7am to fit the handrail and that no other workers were scheduled to arrive at the property until around 8.30am.
Between 7am and 7.30am the following morning, three workers from the glass company arrived at the site to fit panes to the windows, accessing the upper floor via the outside scaffolding.
After the glass was brought up via the outside barrow ramp, one of the workers entered the upstairs sitting room and saw the tarpaulin on the floor.
There was no signage or other indication of an opening below, and no railing or other edge protection preventing access to the void.
The worker walked towards an open window in the sitting room and stepped on the tarpaulin, not knowing there was no floor beneath it, and fell around three metres to the concrete floor below.
He suffered severe injuries to his elbow and shoulder. The carpenter arrived at the property shortly after the fall.
WorkSafe commissioner Darren Kavanagh expressed his disappointment with another serious injury resulting from a fall on a construction site.
"A full 14 percent of all work-related fatalities that have occurred in the construction industry since 2012/13 were as the result of a fall from height," Mr Kavanagh said.
"The WHS regulations will, after a transition period, see increased safety requirements in workplaces in which high risk construction work is taking place.
"Western Australia has had a Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls at Workplaces since 2004 - the code is almost 20 years old, so it would be reasonable to think construction industry employers and workers would be familiar with its requirements by now.
"It was a serious failing that Alcove Engineering's site supervisor agreed to placing the tarpaulin over the void with no signage or other indication that there was no floor under it."
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