Construction company fined $450K

A construction company has been convicted and fined $450,000 after a worker tragically plunged three metres and was impaled on a steel bar at a worksite in Sydney’s north.

Iremar Da Silva who was a formwork foreman, died after he fell 3 metres onto steel reinforcing starter bars at a construction site at 11 Porter Street, Ryde in October 2016.

More than three years on, his family are finally getting some justice after a recent judgement was handed down at Downing Centre District Court convicting company Sapform Pty Ltd who had contracted Mr Da Silva.

CFMEU NSW Construction Secretary Darren Greenfield said Mr Da Silva’s death was a tragedy that should “never have happened” and claimed the $450,000 fine was a “pittance.”

“The fine issued to the builder is a pittance compared to the life of this man and the loss his family have experienced,” Mr Greenfield told The Northern District Times.

Sapform pleaded guilty last October to failing to comply with workplace health and safety procedures, exposing Mr Da Silva to risks on the job which cost him his life.

Mr Da Silva who had worked as a carpenter for 10 years was contracted by Sapform’s director Mr Luis Arrilucea to install formwork at the site, according to court documents. Mr Allicuea was involved in overseeing the day-to-day work on the construction site. On the day of the fateful accident, Mr Da Silva worked on Level 2 of the construction site which was more than three metres above ground level.

Just one level below was a concrete slab with a series of metal starter bars protruding out of it, with some fitted with plastic safety caps. While a permanent scaffold went along the length of the deck, there were “significant gaps” between the edge of the deck and scaffold of up to 53cm, no hand rails and catch decks in the event of a fall, according to court documents.

About 1.39pm on 26 October 2016, Mr Da Silva fell from level 2 and was “impaled on a metal starter bar” protruding from level 1 and died from his injuries. Photographs and videos taken of the site after the accident show gaps between the edge of level 2 deck and scaffolding and missing joist timers which were found to be against industry safe work sequence standards.

It was also found that the defendant had failed to provide “adequate supervision” to Mr Da Silva while he worked on the leading edge of Level 2. Court documents state Sapform and principal contractor KNT Constructions Pty Ltd did not comply with guidance material on how to manage the risk of workplace falls.

“There was no fall protection in place in the area Mr Da Silva was working at the time of the incident.”

In his affidavit, Sapform’s sole director Mr Arrilucea expressed his remorse over Mr Da Silva’s death saying he had worked with him for 15 years.

“Mr Da Silva was highly experienced in conducting formwork and had performed the same task numerous times in the past,” Mr Arrilucea said in his affidavit tendered in court. Yet after the incident, Mr Arrilucea said he inspected the site and saw the accepted sequence of laying the timbers, joists before laying the boards, was not followed.

In her judgment handed out earlier this month, judge Wendy Strathdee told the court Mr Arrilucea sought to “pass the blame” in his affidavit to the deceased and to his supervisor Mr Arbildo.

“These duties are non-delegable and his approach shows a cavalier attitude to the risks to which his workers were exposed,” she said.

Judge Strathdee said the offence was “serious” because measures that could have been taken to control or eliminate the risk were not difficult nor expensive.

“The risk was obvious, glaringly so. There were no guard rails or edge protection and the work was being performed at height,” she said.

She also pointed to the consequences of the company’s actions which exposed his workers to serious risk and the impact on Mr Da Silva’s family.

“The death of Mr Da Silva evidences as such and the loss and devastation his passing has caused his family, and in particular his son who was midway through his HSC examinations is enormous.”

Sapform was convicted and a $450,000 fine was imposed. The initial fine was $600,000 yet it was reduced by 25 per cent because a guilty plea was entered.

KNT Constructions, now known as Truslan Constructions Pty Ltd, was also fined $450,000 last July over the incident.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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