SA winery fined $90 000 for worker fall

A well-known South Australian winemaker has been ordered to pay $90 000 after an employee suffered permanent injuries in a fall.

D’Arenberg pleaded guilty to breaching the Occupational Health and Welfare Act 1986 by failing to implement and maintain safety standards in the workplace.

In 2009, during refurbishment work, a male worker fell through the roof of a storage shed when an unsecured sheet of the roofing iron caved in.

Falling about four metres, he suffered permanent injuries including a fractures skull and wrist, as well as trauma to the optic nerve that means he is almost blind in his left eye.

SafeWork SA told the court the employer failed to ensure the safety of workers and breached the Act by not having hazard identification and sufficient visual inspection of the roof, not supplying fall restraints such as harnesses, failing to have edge protections in place, as well as not ensuring the roofing sheets were properly secured.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie said the incident was “foreseeable and easily preventable” when he handed down his decision yesterday.

“The defendant clearly did not have the expertise to conduct the refurbishment … nor did the employees,” he said.

“It was a serious breach of the Act.

“I also note the defendant had mobile scaffolding and harnessing but unfortunately did not use them.”

The company submitted an early guilty plea and escaped with a $90 000 fine.

According to SafeWork SA, 20 per cent of all workplace injuries are falls, and 40 per cent in construction-related activities.

“Work at height is always dangerous and sometimes deadly, and this case clearly demonstrates the harm that can be caused if safe work systems are not factored into every task of this type,” Acting Executive Director, Bryan Russell said.

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