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Cleaning company fined $30,000 after ladder fall

A Victorian commercial kitchen cleaning company has been convicted and fined $30,000 plus $3,367 costs after one of its workers fell from the awning of a church.

Two of the company’s workers were tasked to clean extraction fans on the church roof. One of the workers set up a ladder on a concrete path, against a metal awning surrounding the church, instead of using a designated building ladder access point.

While the worker was walking on the awning, it gave way and he fell 5.5 metres to the ground. The worker had to be taken to hospital where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder, crushed lower vertebrae and a broken left femur.

Investigations by WorkSafe Victoria revealed that neither of the workers had been trained in working at heights and were not supervised by anyone who had been. The injured worker was not wearing a safety harness at the time of the incident and the company had not prepared a Safe Work Method Statement for the task.

The only instructions the workers had received about the job were sent by text message from one of the company’s supervisors.

Parkton Enterprises Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in Geelong Magistrates’ Court to failing to control the risk of a fall at height and failing to provide instruction and training to its workers on working at height.

Executive Director of Health and Safety for WorkSafe Victoria, Julie Nielsen, said there were no excuses for failing to protect workers against falls from height.

“Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injury in Victorian workplaces, and both the risks and measures that should be used to control them are well known,” Ms Nielsen said.

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to ensure their workers are properly trained and appropriate safety measures are in place.”

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