|Offender||Valmont (WA) Pty Ltd (ACN: 142 331 413)|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||PE32591/2019||Between 5/11/2016 - 5/1/2017||26th July 2019||22(1) 22A(3)||3A(2)(b)(i)||$38,000.00||1st August 2019|
|Description of Breach(es)||
Being a person that has to any extent control of a workplace where persons who are not employees of that person work or are likely to be in the course of their work, did not as far as is practicable ensure that the workplace is such that persons who are at the workplace are not exposed to hazards.
Workplace and Control
The Accused, Valmont (WA) Pty Ltd (Valmont), is an Australian Company, Australian Company number 142 331 413. Valmont were engaged by a retailer to undertake the last stage of the construction and refurbishment works at 3 Forrest Place, Perth, also known as the old GPO Building (the Workplace). This building is a heritage landmark building located on the western side of Forrest Place in Perth’s Central Business District. This was to be the retailer’s flagship store once complete.
At the date of this offence Valmont had two company Directors. They were both based in the Eastern States. Below them they had a team based in Western Australia to undertake the retail store project. The senior members of the team were employed as:
Part of Valmont’s works at the Workplace included construction of a steel and glass atrium roof between floors two and three in the central area of the Workplace. The atrium roof was between 10 and 12 metres high.
The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (OSH Regulations) stipulate that any construction work involving a risk of a person falling two metres or more is defined as High Risk Construction Work.
Valmont had a large suite of policies directed at safety. It had an Integrated Management Plan (Safety, Quality and Environment) for the retailer’s flagship store. It also had a working at heights policy and a number of other relevant connected policies designed to ensure worker and contractor safety whilst on site.
Valmont had considerable control of this part of the Workplace. They set up their offices on level two of the Workplace. They controlled access to the site by issuing its contractors and workers with security swipe cards which was the only way to access the Workplace. Valmont was responsible for inducting workers onto site and ensuring they sign in and out of site.
Valmont was responsible for liaising between its subcontractors and either building management or the retailer.
Valmont required Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) to be provided by contractors performing high risk work before they commenced work on site and engaged another safety company, to assist with the review of these SWMS.
Valmont required all staff working on site whether they were employees or contractors or staff engaged by its contractors to attend a site specific induction.
Valmont also set what times subcontractors could work and undertook to supervise all works on site including those works undertaken during nightshift hours.
Employment Relationship – not employee
Valmont engaged a construction company to construct and install the atrium roof between floors two and three. The atrium roof was constructed from steel beams with glass panels placed on top of the steel beam frame. The glass panels weighed approximately 100kg each and were trafficable, which meant they could be walked on once installed.
The construction company had a number of employees or subcontractors working on the atrium roof project including:
Due to other constraints the atrium roof was to be constructed after hours on nightshift.
The Manager/Supervisor on behalf of the construction company submitted a SWMS to Valmont for approval on 8 December 2016. This SWMS only covered the steel installation component of the atrium roof and did not cover the glass installation component or the touch up painting of the steel beams once they were installed.
None of the Valmont site supervisors reviewed the SWMS despite the Valmont policy that it will do so.
The method identified in the SWMS was to work out of work boxes from multiple boom lifts/elevated work platform (EWP). This was not able to be used for the installation of the glass.
Valmont arranged for a number of basement car-bays to be used for propping of a single EWP that the construction company would use. Although the construction company used this at times, most of the installation required workers to be standing on top of the atrium structure and this was not covered by the SWMS.
Once the steel beams were installed the construction company workers needed to stand on top of the steel beams either to install the glass or to do touch up painting of the steel beams. No safe method for performing these duties was contained in any SWMS.
It is a requirement in OSH Regulation 3.143(1) that the main contractor ensures that the person identified as having the onsite control of high-risk construction work provides it with a SWMS and keeps this up to date. If the subcontractor is unable to comply with this then the main contractor itself must prepare the necessary SWMS and keep it up to date.
Construction Company Attendance at the Workplace
The Manager/Supervisor and the Director of the construction company signed the Valmont induction forms at the Workplace on 14 December 2016. Three construction company workers, including the labourer/trade assistant signed their inductions with Valmont on 15 December 2016, and a fourth construction company worker signed their induction with Valmont on 18 December 2016. These induction consisted of workers filling in some personal details and ticking boxes.
The induction of the construction company workers did not extend to each of them receiving the Valmont Induction Presentation which highlighted the high risk area of the atrium. It also did not extend to each construction company worker being provided with and reading the Hazard Risk Register prepared by The Safety Management Consultant which included specific references to the risks of working at height and how to reduce these risks.
The Induction also failed to inform the construction company staff of the sign on register (also called SHED register) which Valmont policy dictated would be used by all staff coming into and leaving the site.
Valmont policy dictated that each worker performing high risk construction work would be required to read and sign onto a SWMS covering the work they were to perform. With the exception of the construction company Director and Manager/Supervisor, none of the other construction company workers ever read or signed onto any SWMS.
Once the construction company commenced on site they installed two davit cranes on the existing concrete structure between floors two and three and these were used to lift the steel beams up so they could be secured to form the atrium steel roof framework.
The construction company director installed static lines between these davit cranes and wedge type anchors and eyebolts which he had installed into columns around the edge at the atrium roof height. These were for workers to hook onto with a safety harness and lanyard whilst working on the atrium steel framework construction.
Once the steel beam framework had been installed, the davit cranes were removed by the construction company along with the static lines. These were removed before the glass installation commenced.
The construction company installed some plywood boards over the open voids in the steel framework however there were a number of open voids that remained in the steel framework.
Valmont policy dictated that its foreman would conduct SWMS activity observations and also perform regular inspections. This did not occur in relation to the high risk work that the construction company were performing. On one occasion, the construction company labourer/trades assistant and the Manager/Supervisor were observed by a Valmont Site Supervisor to be up on the atrium steel framework and not wearing any safety harness whilst there was no other suitable safety measure was in place.
Although these construction company workers were called down and told to wear their safety harness and PPE there was no adequate fall injury prevention system for them to connect their harnesses to. The Valmont Site supervisor did not follow the Valmont procedures for dealing with non-conformance and corrective action.
There is a Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls at Workplaces 2004 (Code of Practice). This covers such things as the supervision of workers in Part 4. Part 8 of the Code of Practice sets out various requirements for fall injury prevention systems and anchorages.
On the evening of Wednesday 4 January 2017, the construction company workers were on night shift to continue the glass panel installation.
There were several open voids in the atrium steel framework structure. Some voids already had glass panels installed and some had sheets of plywood boards covering the holes, however some voids were not covered by anything.
There were two construction company workers loading glass onto an A frame cradle working from the ground. There were two construction company workers working on top of the atrium steel framework receiving the glass and installing the glass into the voids. There was one construction company worker in an elevated work platform working on the underside of the atrium steel framework. There was one construction company worker doing touch up painting working from on top of the steel framework and other general labouring duties as directed.
At about 4.15am on Wednesday 5 January 2017, the labourer/trades assistant worker fell through an open void in the atrium framework to the ground floor approximately 12 metres below.
The labourer/trades assistant worker was not wearing a safety harness when he fell and there was no adequate system in place to prevent him falling to the ground floor below.
The labourer/trades assistant worker died when he hit the ground with the cause of death being severe head and spinal injury. It is not alleged that Valmont caused his death but it is evidence of potential seriousness of the hazard.
Subsequent to the Incident
After this incident, Valmont paid for a qualified rope access company to come in and approve the safe method of installation of the glass panels onto the steel framework of the atrium.
This included the use of an existing fall arrest system which was a Bomac Altrac Overhead Track System. This was already installed along rails at the roof level (level 7) of the workplace and was used to sling ropes off to assist with the safe installation of the remaining glass panels. Also used were inertia reels connected to slings around the main roof beam of the building.
In addition, each worker had to sign onto a SWMS specifically designed for the task and attend daily prestart safety meetings before commencing work. The glass panel installation was supervised by a Level 2 rope access technician who oversaw compliance with the pre-prepared SWMS.
The Magistrate fined the Accused $38,000 and ordered costs of $8054.00.
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth|
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