Soko fined for fall fail
A LACK of proper safety measures has cost a construction company dearly after an investigation into a worker’s near-fatal fall at a South Burnett worksite ended in a court date.
Gold Coast-based Soko Construction and Roofing Pty Ltd fronted Southport Magistrates Court over a 2019 workplace incident that left a man with a severe brain injury after falling through a skylight.
The company was contracted to replace the roofs on two sheds, including four skylights, at a Bunya Highway property in Kumbia.
One of the employees was on the workshop roof when he stepped on to a polycarbonate skylight sheet and fell 4.8m on to the concrete floor on December 2, 2019. He suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury and was flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in a critical condition.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found Soko hadn’t implemented adequate safety measures such as fall prevention devices, a fall arrest system, or safe system of work to address the specific hazard of working around skylights.
The company was charged under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 with failing to implement appropriate control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk of a worker falling through the roof.
This failure exposed those working on the roof to a risk of death or serious injury.
Magistrate Kerry Magee at sentencing took into account the defendant’s early plea, cooperation with the investigation, and lack of prior convictions.
Ms Magee also acknowledged that since the offence, the defendant had taken steps to remedy safety deficiencies by investing in workplace health and safety measures.
She however maintained the risk of falling should have been addressed via a fall prevention device or fall arrest system, and said it was fortunate there were no anticipated long-term consequences for the man or his capacity to return to work.
The detrimental impact of Covid and border closures on Soko’s business cash flow, supply chains, and workers was also acknowledged.
The company was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay court costs of almost $1600. Ms Magee also imposed a $25,000 surety attached to a two-year court-ordered WHS undertaking. The company would be discharged from the undertaking in October, 2023 if no further offences were committed and the undertaking was not breached.
No conviction was recorded.