Solar installer fined $32,000 after ignoring fall risk


Melbourne-headquartered electrical services company Sentenal Technologies Pty Ltd has been fined an aggregate $30,000 for failing to provide a safe system of work for staff removing solar panels from the roof of an industrial warehouse in Geelong and failing to ensure a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) was in place for the job.

Sentenal Technologies was also fined $2,000 without conviction for failing to comply with a notice under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company was also ordered to pay an additional $7,890 in costs.

Geelong Magistrates Court heard five of the company’s workers were observed in September 2021 removing solar panels from the roof of the warehouse in the Geelong suburb of Corio, the tallest part of which was seven metres high.

Worksafe Victoria said none of the workers were wearing available harnesses and there was no edge protection because, although guard rail footings had been installed, no railings were present.

The industry watchdog said an investigation revealed Worksafe inspectors had previously discussed fall risks with Sentenal Technologies on nine occasions and issued improvement or prohibition notices on five of those.

The court also heard that despite the work constituting high risk construction work due to the risk of a fall from a height greater than two metres, the workers indicated a SWMS had not been prepared due to difficulties with an online application.

Worksafe said Sentenal Technologies also failed to comply with an order to produce all SWMS regarding the company’s work at the Corio warehouse.

WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the risks and too often deadly consequences of falls from height were notorious.

“It beggars belief that safety measures such as harnesses and guard rails were available to these workers but were not being used at the time,” she said.

“WorkSafe will continue to take strong action against any duty holder who fails to control the very real risk of serious injury or death from working at height on construction sites.”

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