Gold Coast builder fined over worker fall

A Gold Coast builder was fined $ 65,000 over an incident in which a carpenter was injured after he fell three metres through a staircase well in July 2015.

The company was fined after pleading guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to meet its workplace safety obligations. However, no conviction was recorded. The company was also ordered to pay more than $ 1000 in professional and court costs when it appeared before Southport Magistrates Court this week.

The incident happened on 3 July 2015 when the carpenter was working on a Benowa building site, managed and controlled by the defendant.

The court heard that there was edge protection on the first floor where the man was working but bad weather had delayed appropriate scaffolding for other floors.

Immediately before the incident, two workers were carrying a 50kg prefabricated wooden frame, which was to be used elsewhere on site, but previously covered the void area.  Carrying the frame, the supervisor was walking forwards and the worker who fell through the unprotected gap into the void was walking backwards.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland told the court the defendant failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the incident.

The worker suffered serious injuries, including skull, cheek and vertebral fractures following the incident. His head injury lead to ongoing slurred speech and amnesia.

In deciding the penalty, the magistrate took into account a number of factors including the scaffolding ordered by the company prior to incident but was delayed, the scaffolding was fully erected post incident and the company cooperated with the investigation and had a good corporate safety history.

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