The 51-year-old man was replacing roofing sheets with the company’s co-owner at its rented premises in Webb Street, Port Adelaide, when he fell 6.5 metres onto a concrete floor. He did not have any formal training or licences for working from heights. In addition, he was not provided with any safety equipment and was working unsupervised at the time of the incident.

The company manufactures garages and sheds. Its co-owner has no formal training in manufacturing or safety.

Following a SafeWork SA investigation, the company was charged with three counts of breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (WHS Act):

  • failure to provide and maintain a safe working environment and exposing workers to risk of serious injury or death
  • failure to perform adequate hazard identification and risk assessment processes related to working on the roof
  • failure to provide instruction and supervision necessary to protect the worker from risks to his health and safety.

The company pleaded guilty to all three counts in the South Australia Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of its duties under section 32 of the WHS Act.

The Tribunal recorded a conviction against the company and imposed a fine of $100,000.

The company was also ordered to install a shed for Kura Yerlo Inc and a plaque dedicated to the deceased 51-year-old man.

Kura Yerlo Inc provides services that allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons to learn trade and work health and safety skills.

The company has also been ordered to arrange for one of its workers to undertake a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety within the next 12 months.

Judge Crawley said appropriate safety equipment including an arrest harness could have been hired at a cost of less than $700. Alternatively, he said the work could have been undertaken by a suitably qualified expert team for less than $4000.

‘The cost of not doing so was the loss of a life, leaving family and friends devastated,’ Judge Crawley said in his judgement delivered last week.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said: ‘Working at heights is a frequent activity in various industries and the risk of serious injury or death resulting from a fall from a height is obvious.’

‘It only takes a few hundred dollars to hire safety equipment for working from heights,’ he said.

‘In this case the cost of not doing so was the tragic and untimely loss of life.’