An employer has been fined $650,000 after a worker died in a 12-metre fall from a platform that was completely unsuitable for purpose, making the fall almost inevitable.

In February 2016, the labourer was inside a riser shaft on the fourth floor of a multi-level apartment construction site drilling holes when the wooden platform he was on tipped under his weight and he fell to his death.

The Court heard the platform was constructed two days before the incident, and it was nailed to the wall and supported by two beams. One of the labourers who built it warned the site foreman tools could fall from it onto workers, and the platform was boarded up.

However, workers weren’t instructed not to work on the platform and on the day of the incident the plywood blocking the entrance was removed by unknown parties.

An engineer engaged by WorkSafe Victoria found the platform was completely unsuitable for purpose and the likelihood of an incident occurring was almost inevitable, the Court heard.

The engineer found it would have been reasonably practicable for Concorp to: have used a site engineer to design the work platform; reduce its size to eliminate the cantilever zone; or add an additional support beam and extend the platform to the width of the shaft.

Concorp didn’t appear in the Court and was deemed to have pleaded not guilty, before being found guilty and fined $650,000.

Unfortunately, this is a perfect example of a company taking a shortcut for production reasons instead of doing the right thing. In this instance it lead to a man’s death that could so easily have been prevented and what’s more disturbing is that someone told the boss and still nothing happened. This is the perfect example of why the Manslaughter laws are being bought into legislation so disgraceful situations like this can end with senior management behind bars. Hopefully setting that kind of example will stop companies from taking shortcuts in the future.

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