A Sydney roofing company and its director have been fined more than $60,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell from a roof in November 2014.

The worker , who  was on a work trial, was assisting with tiling the roof of a single story granny flat at Castle Hill when he fell approximately three metres, striking a pallet of roof tiles in the fall.

SafeWork NSW’s investigation found that the employer, High Top Roofing Pty Ltd had organised for roof rails to be delivered to the site however when they did not arrive, sent the inexperienced worker and a co-worker onto the roof to work without fall protection.

SafeWork NSW charged High Top Roofing Pty Ltd with a breach of sections 32/section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011(NSW) for failing to ensure, the health and safety of workers, and charged the Director with breaches of section 32/ 28 for failing to comply with his duty, to take reasonable care for the safety of others at the workplace.

High Top Roofing and its Director were found guilty in the District Court and fined $61,875. Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the incident was another fall from heights injury that could have been prevented.

“Under NSW work health and safety laws, businesses must have safety systems and equipment to prevent workers falling from heights,” Mr Dunphy said.

“During 2013/14 there were 4,170 workers compensation claims for falls from heights at a cost of more than $49 million.

“Tragically, this incident, like many others, could have been prevented had safe work systems been in place.

“SafeWork NSW’s investigation found that the business had arranged safety rails which could have prevented the fall but the Director did not have the patience to wait for them to be delivered.

“As a result, an inexperienced worker was sent onto the roof without any fall protection and was seriously injured, suffering lacerations to his face, and fractures to both arms when he fell.

“This incident and judgement serves as a strong reminder of the need for safe work systems to prevent falls from heights and reinforces the duties of directors to ensure the safety of workers.”

Mr Dunphy added that SafeWork NSW inspectors could help small businesses to work safely from heights.

“Our inspectors can visit businesses and provide advice and assistance on working from heights safety, as well as injury management and return to work,” he said.

“Additionally, rebates of up to $500 are available to small businesses for the purchase and installation of safety improvements through our Small Business Rebate Program.

“The Rebate can be used to purchase safety harnesses or work platforms which can ensure safe working from heights.

“Whether it’s making sure a step ladder is positioned properly or that a new worker is inducted and aware of the risks, everyone needs to work together to prevent falls from heights.” Mr Dunphy said.

For more information on safely working from heights, including the free publications Safe working at heights, and the Code of Practice: Safe Work on Roofs Parts 1 and 2 or to organise a free small business safety advisory visit, call 13 10 50, or visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au

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