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PCBU convicted and fined for challenging on-the-spot penalty

If you receive a relatively minor penalty for a clear health and safety law breach, it’s probably easier to simply pay up and shut up.

DSD Builders Pty Ltd discovered this after it received an on-the-spot penalty for failing to provide adequate fall protection to prevent its workers falling from heights.

SafeWork NSW received an anonymous complaint about the Newcastle building company’s lack of safety compliance at a construction site.

An inspector visited the site and found that there were no fall protection systems around the first-floor perimeter of the building that was under construction, which was about three metres high. Also, four workers were seen working from height without fall protection.

DSD Builders was then issued with a $3,600 fine and improvement and prohibition notices.

The company complied with the notices, but decided to challenge the fine.

When proceedings commenced at the Downing Centre Local Court, it was found that DSD Builders had not taken reasonably practicable steps to minimise the risk of falls by failing to provide adequate fall protection.

DSD Builders was convicted and fined $5000.

SafeWork NSW Executive Director Tony Williams said that this decision reflects the health and safety regulator’s ongoing commitment to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate falls by 2022.

“More than 12,000 workers were injured after falling from a height between 2014 and 2017. Of those, 25 died and more than 240 were permanently disabled,” he said.

“Over the past three years, most serious falls were from two to four metres, approximately a single storey. These figures, or any death at work, are just unacceptable.

“This judgement sends a clear message that not only must builders provide adequate fall protection for workers, but that those systems must be used by workers to keep everyone on site safe. SafeWork’s action plan in finding the best safety solution for specific industries is highlighted in the Work Health and Safety Roadmap 2022. Our top priorities include construction, manufacturing and transport industries.”

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