A roofing company has been fined $70,000 as well as being ordered to pay costs of $1369, in a Fremantle magistrates court after a labourer was seriously injured in a fall through a skylight.
Round Table Roofing pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and causing serious harm to a person.
The court was told refurbishment work was being done on the roof of a 30 to 40-year-old building with brick walls and a roof comprised of steel beams covered with metal roofing sheets. Half the roof was of portal frame construction, and a new roof was to be placed over the existing sheet covering.
According to reports, on the day of the fall, two roof plumbers were removing rusted metal roof sheets from the existing portal frame roof, and another roof plumber and the roof labourer were cleaning up metal offcuts and insulation spread around the roof.
The roof, on which the men were working, were several fragile skylights. The roof labourer was standing on a loose insulation roll next to the edge of a skylight when he lost his balance and fell through the 800mm x 800mm acrylic moulded skylight. He fell approximately five metres from the existing portal frame roof to the concrete floor below, sustaining multiple fractures and other serious injuries.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said the incident was a further reminder of the vital importance of guarding against falls in workplaces.
“The worker involved in this incident was very fortunate not to have lost his life in the five-metre fall,” McCulloch said.
“Over the past 10 years, 31 Western Australian workers have lost their lives as the result of work-related falls, five of these during the 2016/17 financial year.
“Add to this the number of workers who have sustained permanent and life-changing injuries in falls, and the size of the problem becomes apparent. This incident involved the added hazard of fragile skylights for which a fall injury prevention system had not been put into place.”
McCulloch went on to say where brittle or fragile roofing materials form any part of a roof, people accessing the roof need to be informed and be provided with a safe system of work along with instructions or training about the safe system of work to be used.
“The Code of Practice – Prevention of Falls at Workplaces has been in use in WA since 2004, and should be followed by anyone who has a duty to prevent falls at workplaces.
“This code provides practical advice on the safe systems of work that should be in place where the risk of falls exists.
“The Operation Manager of Deslin was fined $7500 over this incident back in June 2017, providing a reminder that more than one party has responsibility for safety in a workplace, and that more than one entity can be charged over the same incident.
“Employers need to be aware of all the laws involved when there is a fall risk at their workplace and ensure they have suitable safe work procedures in place.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Mingo Hagen