Solar company fined over teen’s fatal fall

A solar panels installer has been fined $300,000 after a harnessed apprentice fell to his death through a warehouse skylight at a job in the Hunter region.

Jaryd Hayter began working as an electrical apprentice for PV Solar Pro Pty Ltd only one week before he fell at the site at Tomago on August 23, 2018. The 19-year-old suffered multiple skull fractures indicating severe traumatic head injury and his life support was withdrawn on September 5.

The company was prosecuted by Safework NSW in the District Court. It pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the relevant health and safety duty owed, thereby exposing Mr Hayter and two other workers to a risk of death or serious injury.

Judge Andrew Scotting on Friday fined PV Solar $300,000 and ordered it to pay the prosecutor’s costs of $70,000.

Fall restraint systems were used by its workers to install the solar panels on the roof, comprising an anchor point, connecting device, rope and harness. Mr Hayter was wearing a harness and was connected via a lanyard to an anchor point on the roof. But the judge found the harness-based fall system that was set up for him was unsafe for performing the type of work being carried out.

The roof anchorages weren’t installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, which included a minimum of three screws when only two were used. The company had allowed a first year apprentice, who didn’t have a copy of the instructions, to set up Mr Hayter’s restraint system.

Their supervisor didn’t check the harness setup or provide specific instructions to Mr Hayter on its correct use. There were also inadequate temporary anchorage points set up on the roof.

“Third, the rope was set too long with a greater length of free movement than would prevent Mr Hayter from falling to the ground in the event of a vertical fall,” the judge said.

He took into account the “devastating impact that the offence has had on Mr Hayter’s family” and the need for general deterrence.

“Employers must take the obligations imposed by the Act very seriously. The community is entitled to expect that both small and large employers will comply with safety requirements.”

He accepted PV Solar had demonstrated remorse and had taken extensive steps since the incident to make its activities significantly safer.

Source: Mandurah Mail

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