A GARDENER’S 4½-metre fall from a roof when a timber beam gave way has seen All Saints Winery fined $20,000.
The Wahgunyah business was penalised in Wodonga Court after pleading guilty to two charges laid by WorkSafe Victoria over the incident on November 16, 2015.
Nathan Thomas suffered a torn pelvis and hamstring, damaged groin and sore ankle in the fall which occurred when he was removing roof panels as part of a chook shed demolition.
The 1910 corrugated iron clad shed was being knocked down to allow a new wine storage area to be built.
WorkSafe prosecutor Nick Goodfellow said a scissor lift had been used to remove earlier panels but it was decided to walk on the roof to pull off sheets tightly fitted with screws and nails.
All Saints employee Jason Carroll, who had worked at a Lavington roof firm for six years, told Mr Thomas to remain on screw lines as he removed the panels.
After 1½ hours walking the same roof path, a beam snapped and Mr Thomas fell 4½ metres, Mr Goodfellow said.
A WorkSafe investigator called to the scene found there was no safe work method plan for the project and no “passive fall prevention device” such as a harness.
As a result All Saints was charged with failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide suitable information and training.
The firm’s barrister Kelly McKay said All Saints by virtue of its plea took responsibility for its conduct and noted the appearance in court of chief executive Eliza Brown and general manager Nick Brown to show how seriously the matter was treated.
She said Mr Brown engaged in a lengthy conversation with Mr Carroll about the demolition and believed his expertise would allow the work to be done “in-house”.
No beams had been identified as inherently weak and unstable parts of the roof had been spray-painted, Ms McKay said.
She said Mr Brown helped with the demolition and Mr Thomas was only sought when the general manager went to a meeting.
Ms McKay said if Mr Brown knew Mr Thomas was involved he would not have allowed him to participate because he had not been in the project beforehand.
In sentencing, magistrate Ian Watkins said the fall had a “negative impact” on Mr Thomas’ “lifestyle and wellbeing” but he still worked.
He fined All Saints an aggregate of $20,000 and ordered it to pay costs of $3975 but spared it a conviction because of its record as a “good corporate citizen”.