Failure to update safe work method statement leads to near miss
WorkSafe v Bernie Leen & Sons Pty Ltd (2016)
In May 2015, a construction company engaged demolition contractor, Bernie Leen & Sons Pty Ltd (Bernie Leen), to demolish a section of old buildings. The demolition work was high-risk construction work and Bernie Leen was required to prepare and follow a safe work method statement (SWMS).
On 13 May 2015, workers were removing metal gates weighing approximately 800kg from the building. However, the SWMS failed to adequately deal with the risks to health and safety after the gates were cut from their frame. An excavator was used to hold one side of the gates in place, but they fell in the opposite direction, narrowly missing the site foreman who had used his oxy tool to cut the gates free.
Bernie Leen was fined $2,500 without conviction and ordered to pay court costs of $2,251.
Businesses involved in high-risk construction work should be aware that the obligation to prepare an SWMS extends to revising the SWMS if necessary to ensure that risks during all stages of the activity are controlled.
Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.
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