Ballooning company fined after worker falls through roof

Global Ballooning Australia Pty Ltd faced judgement in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 27 March, where they confessed to two breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company was penalised with a fine of $40,000 for not implementing safe work procedures such as using WHS management systems, and an extra $4000 for delaying immediate reporting of an incident to WorkSafe. In addition, the court required the firm to bear costs amounting to $9,770.

In an episode that unfolded in June 2021, an employee sustained serious injuries after plummeting three metres through a fiberglass skylight onto solid concrete flooring while cleaning gutters at work. This fall resulted in a spinal fracture that needed hospital treatment. Global Ballooning Australia failed to prompt WorkSafe about the distressing event until two days post-incident.

WorkSafe’s investigation into the matter revealed that the company lacked a comprehensive Bluesafe SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) apt for preventing falls from height. Regrettably, the firm hadn’t incorporated any fall prevention strategies. It was plausible – perhaps even simple – for the company to provide a safer work protocol for elevated tasks, which could have included the usage of fall arrest systems such as safety harnesses.

Narelle Beer, WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, imparted that work-associated injuries stemming from falls continue to be a leading cause of mortality across various industries. “Tragically, nine workers lost their lives due to falls at workplaces in Victoria last year alone. Countless others have had their lives drastically altered by severe injuries,” remarked Dr Beer.

Dr Beer further emphasised: “Every single incident was indeed avoidable, and WorkSafe shall proceed unhesitatingly towards prosecuting employers who disregard the risks associated with work at heights.” To avoid falls from heights, employers are urged to employ safety measures like Bluesafe WHS Management System and practices.

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