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                        2 min read

                        Primary contractor fined $1.35m in damages after safety failings

                        Primary contractor fined $1.35m in damages after safety failings

                        A truck driver was injured while dismantling scaffolding on-site. After an investigation, a superior court awarded $1.35 million in damages for failing to establish a safe system of work – including failing to provide an exclusion zone.
                        What happened?

                        The incident happened after the truck driver was instructed to attend a building site in northern Sydney to collect scaffolding that was being dismantled.

                        Upon arrival, the scaffold to be collected was still in place – and so he was instructed to help the crew dismantle the structure. It was during this process that the incident occurred.

                        A concrete covered scaffolding bench fell from a third-floor scaffold and struck him, causing serious and permanent compression injuries to his spineThese injuries required treatment with a range of therapies including surgical decompression and micro-discectomy.

                        During the hearing, the judge accepted that the worker was permanently incapacitated as a result of the injury. In assessing liability, he found at the time of the injury, the controller of the site was responsible for instructing the worker.

                        He further noted that the team failed to tape off an exclusion zone below the scaffold, or advise the worker not to enter the area, adding that the the company that the worker was employed by had no control over him, nor the way any work was conducted on-site.

                        He concluded that the site controller failed in their duty to provide reasonable care to ensure that a safe system of work was in place. He went on to say that it was negligent to instruct the work – a truck driver – with the task of dismantling the scaffold; a job for which he had received no formal training or instruction.

                        He assessed the amount payable as $1,356,533.


                        Time to put your own safety practises to the test

                        Had relevant steps been taken to ensure a safe system of work, this incident could have been prevented.

                        It serves as a stark reminder to ensure that safety and compliance processes are scrutinised, gaps identified, and improvements put in place.

                        To help, we’ve developed a safety systems health check that walks you through each area of your safety systems and shows you how to improve.

                        It’s completely free to do, and simple to complete.

                        Machinery Safety System Health Check


                        Here to help

                        To speak with a member of the Plant Assessor team on how we can help you manage your machinery safety and compliance processes, call 1300 728 852 or email


                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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