Prosecution following bi-fold gate incident

A Victorian commercial carpentry business specialising in hoarding construction was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay WorkSafe’s cost of $4,132 under a recent prosecution following an injury involving a worksite gate in 2022.

The business was engaged to install a hoarding and entrance gate at a worksite located in suburban Melbourne.

The specific gate was 7 m in length, made of steel and weighed approximately 250 kg. It would be closed manually by butting up against the hoarding of the opposite side of the gate track run.

The task for the business was to increase the entrance size by 4.5 m, taking it to 11.5 m, and adding a 6 m bi-fold gate.

The company failed to ensure that the entrance gate onsite was inspected by a qualified engineer before being put back into operational use.

A worker sustained a dislocated and broken left ankle, bruising and some other minor injuries when the gate dislodged and fell on a parked excavator and then landed on the ground, trapping the worker’s ankle.

The injured person was instructed to close the gate for lunch. Standing inside the worksite boundary, the person attempted to pull the gate closed along its track using the handle.

The gate travelled along its track and failed to stop, subsequently running beyond the support hurdles. This caused the gate to dislodge inwards and fall on a parked excavator, then onto the ground, trapping the injured person by her ankle.

The person attempted to use a nearby radio on the ground to call for help, but it was not working. The injured person screamed out for help and was heard by nearby workers who rushed to her aid, removing the gate and pulling her to safety.

The charge before the Court concerned a failure by the offender to, so far as was reasonably practicable, ensure that persons other than its employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from its conduct. It had failed to maintain systems of work that were, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. In particular, it failed to ensure that the gate was inspected by a qualified engineer prior to being put back into operational use.

The representative for the business stated to a WorkSafe inspector the following.
  • The steel stopper at the top of the gate that served to stop the gate extending past the steel hurdle had been removed during the works and not replaced.
  • He had attended the workplace on 29 June 2022 to conduct an inspection of the gate and “did not notice that the steel stopper was missing from the top of the gate”.
  • The usual process the business undertakes was for the director of the business to inspect any works before handing it back to the client. Additionally a qualified third-party engineer is used to sign off designs.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

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