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3 deficiencies lead to $30,000 fine

The importance of implementing safe systems of work and properly communicating those processes was highlighted in the WorkSafe Victoria prosecution of Starfish Energy Pty Ltd (trading as Into Solar), after an apprentice fell through an unsupported part of the roof cavity while installing solar panels.

Into Solar is a solar power retailer and installation company that was engaged to install a solar power system at a two-storey residential building. To carry out the installation, the company was required to take tools and materials to and from the roof of the building, and install the solar panels on the roof.

To access the roof cavity, a manhole in the ceiling from a bedroom was used. The injured worker, who was an apprentice, was required to step from beam to beam when he was moving towards the manhole. At one point, the worker stood on the insulation between two wooden beams, the plasterboard under the insulation gave way and he fell approximately 3 metres to the floor, suffering injuries.

In fining the company $30,000, the Court noted the following deficiencies in the work practices of the company:

  1. Access to the roof cavity was unsafe as the ladder was inadequately secured and there was no safe access through the cavity via boards, sheeting or flooring.
  2. The site supervisor did not properly provide information to the worker about how to do the job or assess whether he understood the instructions, which were given mainly in Mandarin – a language that the worker did not understand.
  3. There was no competent supervision, and the safe work method statement (SWMS) was not site-specific or up to date. In any event, the SWMS was not followed with respect to safely installing the ladder.

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