A plumbing company has become the second business to be convicted and fined over an incident in which an apprentice was seriously burned when he made contact with powerlines.
H&A Majestic Plumbing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to one charge containing two contraventions of section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 in that it failed to provide a workplace that was safe and without risks to health.
It was fined $40,000 in the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court and ordered to pay $9713 in costs.
The court heard the 23-year-old apprentice was working alone, installing fascia and guttering from the top level of scaffolding at a residential housing site at Coburg, when the incident occurred in October 2015.
The apprentice received substantial burns to his left shoulder, arm and leg when guttering he was carrying made contact with 22kv powerlines.
He received hospital treatment for three months and is still recovering from his injuries.
The court heard the scaffolding had been erected just 1.84 metres from overhead powerlines, which was within the minimum safe clearance distance or 'no go zone'.
It heard H&A Majestic Plumbing failed to prepare the Safe Work Method Statement required for high risk construction work and failed to obtain a permit for working in a ‘no go zone’ on scaffolding close to the high voltage powerlines.
In January this year Dhillon Scaffolding Pty Ltd, who erected the scaffolding, was convicted, fined $100,000 and ordered to pay $3503.45 in costs following the same incident.
Dhillon was charged with breaching Section 26 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, in that it failed as a duty holder with management or control of a workplace to ensure that workplace was without risks to health and safety.
The court heard Dhillon failed to obtain a permit to erect scaffolding within the 'no go zone' and failed to ensure any scaffolding within the zone was erected in accordance with such a permit.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety, Paul Fowler, said ignoring the risks of scaffolding near overhead powerlines showed blatant disregard for safe work practices.
"A young worker was severely injured because no one took the time to ensure scaffolding erected within the minimum safe distance of powerlines had the correct safeguards in place" he said.
"Scaffolding failures can have catastrophic consequences, and in this case, the young worker is lucky to be alive.
"Every employer in Victoria must provide a safe workplace. Young workers, who may be working in close proximity to overhead powerlines, rightly expect that they will head home at the the end of the day safely."
Tips for maintaining safe scaffolds include:
- Complying with 'no go zone' requirements where scaffolding is erected, dismantled or in use near overheard powerlines, including compliance with 'Permit to Work' requirements issued by the power distribution company.
- Ensuring engineering approval is obtained where shade-mesh or hoarding is affixed to scaffolding.
- Supplying design drawings for complex scaffolding.
- Ensuring employees have been provided with any necessary information, instruction or training for the safe use of scaffolds.
To view WorkSafe guidance on the safe use of scaffolding click here, or go to worksafe.vic.gov.au.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.