A Melbourne company has been fined $20,000 without conviction after it erected scaffolding within 60cm of powerlines, without a permit at a Vermont construction site.
It was also ordered to pay $4115 in costs.
On June 7, Kwikserv Formwork & Scaffolding pleaded guilty to breaching section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to enable workers to perform work in a safe manner and without risk to health.
The Ringwood Magistrates’ Court heard Kwikserv was engaged by the site’s principal contractor to erect scaffolding in July, 2016.
It sub-contracted the work to a third party, which erected the scaffolding inside the five metre ‘No Go Zone’ around powerlines.
The court heard although Kwikserv had a Safe Work Method Statement in place that required the principal contractor to apply for permits to work within the ‘No Go Zone’, approved permits were never obtained.
However, it was reasonably practicable for the company to provide proper instruction to workers and contractors to ensure the system was followed.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety, Paul Fowler, said employers had to ensure their workers were provided with all the information necessary to do their job safely.
“There is a real danger of serious injury or death from electrocution in this environment if a safe system of work is not adhered to,” Mr Fowler said.
“A Safe Work Method Statement in and of itself, is not enough to ensure safety if an employer has not provided adequate information, instruction and training to its workers to implement it.
"Employers who fail to properly train or provide information to their workers to enable them to do a job safely means they are breaching a key OHS obligation, which not only exposes their workers to unnecessary risks but also exposes their business to the risk of prosecution, fines and reputational damage."
Tips for erecting and maintaining safe scaffolds include:
- Inducting all workers and contractors onto the site in relation to relevant systems of work.
- Ensuring scaffolding is erected by an appropriately trained or licensed person.
- Maintaining ‘No Go Zones’ around power lines during scaffold erection and dismantling activities.
- Ensuring all necessary permits are obtained and followed when working within ‘No Go Zones’.
- Providing warning signs and barriers to restrict access to incomplete scaffolds.
- Using scaffolding only for the purpose for which it was designed. Identifying, removing or replacing damaged scaffolding.
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.