Construction company manager fined $60,000 over 2017 fall death of 17-year-old worker

A construction company manager has been fined $60,000 (and ordered to pay $45,813.50) in costs) over the fall death of a 17-year-old worker in 2017.

Luke Fraser Corderoy, a manager of Industrial Construction Services Pty Ltd (ICS) was found guilty of failing to provide and maintain a work environment free from hazards and that the incident occurred with his consent or was attributable to his neglect.

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.

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.

In January 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.

Despite the fact that there were several open voids in the framework and workers were expected to work close to them, there was no adequate fall injury prevention system present for workers to connect their harnesses to.

Industrial Construction Services Pty Ltd (ICS) was found guilty in 2021 of failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing the death of Wesley Ballantine.

As ICS’s manager of the H&M job, Mr Corderoy had responsibility for the safety of the workers, and the Magistrate said he knew of the unsafe conditions and neglected to put a stop to them.

However, the Magistrate added that Mr Corderoy was not the only person who should have done something and did not.

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

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

“ICS 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.

“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.

”I’m pleased that the court has found that Mr Corderoy did not provide and maintain a safe workplace for his workers, and that he has been penalised accordingly.

“This incident has caused an enormous amount of trauma, and I hope that the finalisation of these court cases can provide some closure for Wesley Ballantine’s mother and family.”

Source: Commerce WA

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