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After a concrete slab fell out from under two workers causing serious injuries, Mercon Group Pty Ltd received a $90,000 fine for failing to provide appropriate safety measures on a demolition site.

Mercon was engaged by principal contractor Growthbuilt Pty Ltd to perform demolition work, including the removal of concrete slabs to create space for the installation of elevators and stairways in a larger refurbishment project.

cost-cutting measures with serious consequences

In their original quote for completing the demolition, Mercon included costs associated with the use of ‘catch decks’ for cutting the concrete slabs. The ‘catch decks’ were intended to minimise any risk associated with concrete falling whilst being cut. Growthbuilt rejected the quote on the basis that the ‘catch decks’ were too expensive, so the parties agreed to supporting the concrete using props and joists instead.

The alternative support system ultimately failed and one of the concrete slabs fell out from under three workers as they were cutting it. After the incident, Growthbuilt engaged an engineering consultant to advise on a demolition method which would allow for the works to be performed safely. The consultant recommended using a robotic concrete cutter, which was always an affordable alternative available to all parties.

subcontractor pleads guilty despite cost-cutting request from principal

SafeWork NSW commenced proceedings against Mercon for exposing their workers to the risk of death or serious injury. Mercon pleaded guilty, conceding that they should have insisted on the use of ‘catch decks’, or sought appropriate alternatives such as the robotic concrete cutter.

The Court held that Mercon was obliged to reject the work rather than agreeing to complete it with substandard safety measures. Mercon was ordered to pay a fine of $120,000, which was reduced to $90,000 because of their guilty plea. They were also ordered to pay costs of $42,000 to the prosecutor.

safety measures essential for high-risk work environments

All employers must implement all reasonably practicable measures to eliminate risks to health and safety, or to minimise them where elimination is not reasonably practicable. This is particularly important for businesses conducting high-risk work. Commercial pressures will not stand up as an adequate defence if a foreseeable risk eventuates.

To discuss the safety obligations of sub-contractors, contact the Employment, Safety and Migration team.

 

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cost-cutting demands from principal no excuse for subcontractor’s safety breach

24 August 2021
barney adams natalie montalto

After a concrete slab fell out from under two workers causing serious injuries, Mercon Group Pty Ltd received a $90,000 fine for failing to provide appropriate safety measures on a demolition site.

Mercon was engaged by principal contractor Growthbuilt Pty Ltd to perform demolition work, including the removal of concrete slabs to create space for the installation of elevators and stairways in a larger refurbishment project.

cost-cutting measures with serious consequences

In their original quote for completing the demolition, Mercon included costs associated with the use of ‘catch decks’ for cutting the concrete slabs. The ‘catch decks’ were intended to minimise any risk associated with concrete falling whilst being cut. Growthbuilt rejected the quote on the basis that the ‘catch decks’ were too expensive, so the parties agreed to supporting the concrete using props and joists instead.

The alternative support system ultimately failed and one of the concrete slabs fell out from under three workers as they were cutting it. After the incident, Growthbuilt engaged an engineering consultant to advise on a demolition method which would allow for the works to be performed safely. The consultant recommended using a robotic concrete cutter, which was always an affordable alternative available to all parties.

subcontractor pleads guilty despite cost-cutting request from principal

SafeWork NSW commenced proceedings against Mercon for exposing their workers to the risk of death or serious injury. Mercon pleaded guilty, conceding that they should have insisted on the use of ‘catch decks’, or sought appropriate alternatives such as the robotic concrete cutter.

The Court held that Mercon was obliged to reject the work rather than agreeing to complete it with substandard safety measures. Mercon was ordered to pay a fine of $120,000, which was reduced to $90,000 because of their guilty plea. They were also ordered to pay costs of $42,000 to the prosecutor.

safety measures essential for high-risk work environments

All employers must implement all reasonably practicable measures to eliminate risks to health and safety, or to minimise them where elimination is not reasonably practicable. This is particularly important for businesses conducting high-risk work. Commercial pressures will not stand up as an adequate defence if a foreseeable risk eventuates.

To discuss the safety obligations of sub-contractors, contact the Employment, Safety and Migration team.