Construction company fined $320,000 in Ballantine fall case

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

A construction company has been fined $320,000 (and ordered to pay $22,212.45 in costs) over an incident in 2017 in which a young worker fell to his death.

17-year-old Wesley Ballantine died after he fell through a void in the roof of an internal atrium at the old GPO building during the construction of the H&M store in Forrest Place, Perth.

Industrial Construction Services Pty Ltd (ICS) was found guilty of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing the death of Wesley Ballantine (maximum fine $400,000).

ICS was engaged as a subcontractor to construct and install a steel and glass atrium roof between floors two and three in the central area of the building, which was the final stage in the project to refurbish the heritage landmark building and convert it into an H&M store.

On January 4 2017, workers were on night shift installing the glass panels in the atrium roof. At around 4.15am on January 5, Wesley Ballantine fell through an open void in the atrium framework to the ground floor around 12 metres below.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the failure of ICS to have a safe fall injury prevention system in place was a serious failing.

He particularly noted that there were several open voids in the framework when workers were required to work in close proximity to those voids.

“There was no adequate risk assessment for the glass installation and no Safe Work Method Statement was implemented,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“The ICS manager secured plywood boards on top of the steel frame before the glass panels were installed, but a number of voids were left open as there was not enough boards to cover the openings.

“At the time of the incident, the only fall prevention measure in place was for workers to sling onto the steel framework using slings along the steel beams connected to their lanyard and a safety harness.

“The fall prevention system was inadequate because workers were exposed to the fall hazard when moving from one beam to another.

“Western Australia has had a Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls at Workplaces since 2004, and this code provides practical guidance to effectively manage fall risks and should be followed in all workplaces where a risk of falls is present.

“The tragic death of this young worker should remind everyone of the importance of having safe systems of work in place to prevent falls from height and actually using these safe systems.”

This case is the second of four before the courts that relate to this incident. Valmont (WA) Pty Ltd was fined $38,000 in August 2019 over this incident, and the director and a manager of ICS will face court in April next year.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.