Building company fined $26,000 over multiple safety failures

A construction company in Victoria has been convicted and fined $26,000 following multiple safety breaches at a Geelong building site.

M.Z.K Constructions was sentenced in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to three charges of failing to ensure that a workplace under its management or control was safe and without risks to health and one charge of failing to comply with a prohibition notice.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $4414.

The court heard that WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visited the Hamlyn Heights site ten times between January and April 2022.

On the first visit, an inspector observed workers working at a height of about five metres with no fall protection in place. The workers had not been inducted, and there was no safe work method statement (SWMS) prepared for the high-risk construction work.

At a follow-up visit, inspectors observed inadequate fall protection around the building’s second storey and no fall protection around the stair void. No information had been provided to workers on how to erect compliant guard rails and the workers had not been inducted.

Inspectors issued a prohibition notice preventing any work on the second storey without a rated guard rail system or stair void fall protection; however, on a further visit, they observed work continuing in contravention of the notice.

The court found it was reasonably practicable for M.Z.K Constructions to have prepared a site-specific SWMS prior to work commencing, to have installed perimeter edge protection such as guard railing to the second storey, and to have provided induction and/or site-specific training to workers.

“It is incredibly frustrating that this company repeatedly put workers in danger; there can be absolutely no excuses for not taking safety seriously when working at height,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Narelle Beer.

“This year alone, seven workers have lost their lives due to injuries sustained in falls from height, which highlights the tragic consequences of failing to manage the risks.”