Demolition is a key part of improving Australia’s ever-growing infrastructure demands. However, it is also one of the most dangerous industries considering the number of tools and heavy equipment that are used in this process.
This was illustrated in a recent case out of the NSW District Court in which a Sydney demolition company was fined over a 2013 accident.
While demolishing a building with an excavator, an 18 year old worker operating the machine was struck by a steel bar which entered the cabin through an open window. As a result of the accident, the worker’s skull was pierced by the steel bar and he suffered extensive injuries.
The window shouldn’t have been open in the first place, which a site supervisor noticed before the accident. However, according to the SafeWork NSW investigation, the worker didn’t advise the victim to close it.
Executive Director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy explained that it was fortunate the worker didn’t receive long-term injuries.
“This incident highlights again that an effective safety system does not have to be expensive or complicated,” he said.
“The risk of an excavator operator being struck by a flying object and the need to shut the front safety screen during excavation is widely known and understood within the demolition and excavation industry.”
According to Safe Work Australia, 16 workers have lost their lives in the construction industry this year alone. In this case, the 18 year old was lucky to escape serious injury, but the consequences may have been much worse.
Scope for negligence?
It is clear from the summary of events that the incident was an accident. But, is there a reason to suggest the employer was neglect in the way they dealt with the open window? According to the judge in the case, the answer is yes.
Based on the SafeWork media statement, the judge said the site supervisor didn’t follow company policy and should have known the excavator’s operating manual stated the window needs to be closed at all times.
Because of this fact, the company was fined $120,000.
Of course, if you suffered a similar accident, you could also make a TPD claim.
NSW workers’ compensation
It is important to remember that in NSW, anyone injured at work can make a TPD claim. There are personal injury lawyers available who specialise in these claims and are able to provide a free consultation to discuss your personal situation.
Many lawyers operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, so they can advise you on your chances of success free of charge. If they think you have a case, it’s completely up to you whether you engage their services.