17/09/2021 - 14:34

Wormall Civil cops $95k fine over workplace incident

17/09/2021 - 14:34

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Wormall Civil has been hit with a $95,000 fine after a young worker sustained serious injuries in a workplace incident in 2018.

Wormall Civil faced Perth Magistrates Court this morning, pleading guilty to failing to maintain a safe workplace. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Engineering contractor Wormall Civil has been hit with a $95,000 fine over an incident in which a young worker sustained serious injuries after being pinned by a steel plate and several limestone blocks in 2018.

Wormall Civil faced Perth Magistrates Court this morning, pleading guilty to failing to maintain a safe workplace and subsequently, causing serious injury to an employee.

The charges related to an incident more than three years ago, in which an employee was left with multiple fractures to his pelvic region after being pinned by the steel plate and several 250 kilogram limestone blocks at a building site in Baldivis.

The employee had been extending sewer inspection shafts in a 1.8 metre open trench beside a partially constructed limestone retaining wall and a steel plate when the wall collapsed.

An excavator had to be used to remove the materials and free the worker, who has since had to undergo physiotherapy as a result of the incident.

The incident constituted a breach of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, which carries a maximum penalty of a $400,000 fine.

WorkSafe WA commissioner Darren Kavanagh said Wormall had vowed to undertake the works in accordance with the state’s code of practice, but that did not occur.

According to Mr Kavanagh, the site’s project manager had warned those at the site undertaking work in the trench without first removing the wall would not be safe.

But he said the warning was discarded and procedures ignored when the decision was made to use a steel plate as ad-hoc shoring for the wall.

“It would have taken around two hours to dismantle the retaining wall, but instead management’s disregard for the safety of the workers that day resulted in devastating and long-term injuries to a young worker,” he said.

“The case should provide a strong reminder to industry safe work policies and procedures must be in place – and most importantly – should always be followed.”

In a statement released by the company this afternoon, it confirmed the employee, who has remained with the company, was on track for a full recovery.

The company said it was saddened by the failure of its systems and processes on the day and had since increased its investment in safety and enhanced workplace systems.

Wormall Civil’s managing director Shane Wormall said the incident was a reminder of the hazards present at every construction site and the need for constant vigilance and improved safety.

"We remain committed to the safety of all of our staff and contractors and are always looking for the opportunities for improvement," he said.

"No task is ever so important, that it can justify not following the safety procedures and practices.”

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