Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Fined for Death; Company and Director Are Fined $137,500

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Fined for Death; Company and Director Are Fined $137,500

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DEEFHOLTS terry.deefholts@dailyexaminer.com.au

PROPER safety protocols and training would have prevented the death of Lee Tapping, the NSW Industrial Court has found.

Mr Tapping, aged 34 at the time of his death, was in his first month of work at the Grafton Shoppingworld site when he was struck by a steel concrete mould weighing more than 100kg on April 3, 2008.

In a 23-page judgement handed down last Thursday, the court fined the building company Mr Tapping worked for a Suncoast Formwork Pty Ltd a and its director Garry Watt, $137,500 and ordered the company to pay WorkCover's legal costs.

In his judgement, Justice Francis Marks said Suncoast failed to provide a safe work method statement to its subcontractors for the task of stripping steel column formwork shutters around concrete columns and noted repeatedly that an acro-prop should have been used to secure the shutters to prevent them from becoming unstable.

Justice Marks said there was no method in place that required a worker to be clear of the range (an exclusion zone) in which they could be struck if a 3.6 metre shutter fell, before the operator of a plant started to lift and remove that shutter.

He noted Mr Tapping and his superior, Eddie Smith, had removed several moulds on the morning of the accident but the area around the column they were about to strip about 9am was uneven and sloping, with loose dirt around the base of the concrete column.

Mr Tapping removed the bolts connecting the two halves of the steel moulds/shutter and connected one half of the shutter to a crane-like plant with a chain before walking away from the column.

aThe remaining half of the shutter was freestanding and was not supported or propped in its position by an acro-prop or other device such as that. The remaining shutter was only held in place by adhesion between the shutter and the concrete column,a Justice Marks said. …

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