Two NSW companies fined $1.05m over fatal electrocution - 19.10.22

A construction company and a roofing company have pleaded guilty and been fined $600,000 and $450,000 respectively, following a fatal electrocution incident in 2019. SafeWork Executive Director (Compliance & Dispute Resolution) Matthew Press said that falls from heights are the leading cause of traumatic injuries and fatalities in the NSW construction industry, closely followed by contact with electricity.

On 11 February 2019, two labourers were removing steel handrails from the roof of a warehouse in Moorebank when a metal handrail contacted high-voltage powerlines nearby. The 25-year-old man holding the handrail fell onto his back; his workmate ran to his aid and tried to kick the handrail out of his hands. Unfortunately the 25-year-old died on the roof and the other worker suffered serious burns to his legs.

Riverwall Constructions Pty Ltd was engaged to replace the damaged roof on which the workers were working. Riverwall oversaw the project at the site and subcontracted Perry’s Roofing Pty Ltd to replace the roof.

Riverwall Constructions received a $600,000 fine and Perry’s Roofing received a $450,000 fine. Both were also convicted in the District Court for failing to comply with their work health and safety duty. Press said that this case is a reminder to all businesses involved in this type of work to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work health and Safety Regulation 2017 and the Codes of Practice for Construction Work and Work near overhead powerlines.

“Each year SafeWork NSW responds to many incidents where workers come into contact with overhead powerlines or are observed working too close to them. Businesses must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance of an overhead powerline. To avoid these types of incidents, consult with the electricity supply authority to have the power isolated. They can assess the site and advise of appropriate controls that you should adhere to. If you can’t avoid working near overhead powerlines, you need to properly assess and control the risks to workers,” Press said.