26 storey pipe fall lands company $200,000 safety spend

Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd entered into an Enforceable Undertaking in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday 11 August while facing two charges of failing to ensure a workplace was safe and without risks to health.

WorkSafe may reinstate the charges if the undertaking is contravened or withdrawn.

In March 2020, sprinkler pipes were being installed on the 26th floor of a residential tower under construction on Queen Street when a length of pipe detached and fell over the edge of the building, landing close to workers at street level.

Multiplex was accused of failing to ensure debris nets were installed to the perimeter of the building and failing to provide information and instruction to sub-contractors that no work was to be performed without debris nets in place.

As part of the undertaking, the company has agreed to produce a series of health and safety videos for WorkSafe’s web site in relation to the incident and to advertise the videos in an industry magazine.

Multiplex will also fund a tertiary scholarship for a student to complete a Master of Occupational health and Safety, including a research topic focused on falling objects in the construction industry.

The estimated cost of the undertaking is $195,548.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said falling objects continue to cause death and serious injury in the construction industry.

“Even a small object can pose a serious risk to workers and members of the public when falling from height,” Dr Beer said.

“Control measures for falling objects are well known and employers have a duty to do everything reasonably practicable to implement them.”

To manage the risks associated with falling objects in the construction industry, duty holders should:

  • Eliminate the risk through off-site assembly of equipment that would otherwise be performed at an elevated edge.
  • Isolate the risk with barricades or fencing to create exclusion zones at ground level.
  • Implement engineering controls such as installing perimeter safety screens or nets, overhead protection gantries, enclosed perimeter scaffolding, and restraining loose material.
  • Use administrative controls such as lines markings and signage to advise lanyard systems are to be used on tools, monitoring the possibility of windy weather, and ensuring good housekeeping practices.

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