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Formwork company failures found to have led to fall from height

In a judgment handed down in the NSW District Court last week, a formwork company that failed to secure penetrations in the formwork deck, which led to the fall from height of a crane dogman, has been fined $240,000, reduced to $100,000, over the incident.

In April 2020, the formwork company, G&Z Form Group, was installing a formwork deck at a worksite where an aged-care facility was being constructed. The company had commenced work using conventional formwork left by previous formworkers and then changed to use a modular formwork system known as Skydeck.

G&Z did not undertake an assessment of the risks associated with the installation of the Skydeck system and how the risks were to be managed. In particular, G&Z did not consider how penetrations in the Skydeck system were to be protected and there was no clear methodology for how the larger penetrations around columns would be secured in the Skydeck system. G&Z took an approach that the panels would only be flipped immediately prior to the forming up of the columns below the panel and the penetration would be shuttered afterwards.

On the day of the incident, a dogman working with a crane crew was guiding a load of materials onto the formwork deck when he stepped backwards and knocked a panel that was temporarily placed over a column penetration. He fell through and fell 2.9 metres, impaling his shoulder on a steel reinforcing bar.

The Court found that G&Z failed to:

  • comply with its own safe work method statement to ensure penetrations were securely covered and identified;
  • barricade the area of risk as a ‘formwork only’ exclusion zone; and
  • adequately supervise their own workers to make sure that the penetrations were covered, secured and marked.
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