Building company fined $15,000 after collapse of tilt-up panels

A building company has recently been fined $15,000 following the collapse of four concrete tilt-up panels in 2008 at a Perth construction site.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the removal of temporary bracing of the concrete panels was in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards.

Following investigations into the incident it was found that four labourers were working with the panels and they removed six braces before the panels collapsed.

In accordance with Australian Standards, tilt-up structures must be inspected before braces are removed to ensure they are safe.

The designer or an authorised agent will typically carry out a safety inspection of the structure, and they then provide the builder(s) with a written approval instructing them that it is safe to remove the braces.

During the trial the Perth Magistrates Court found that the panels had not been subjected to a safety inspection.

It was also found that the company had not received a written approval to remove the braces, and it was not the company's usual practice to do so, which is contrary to the Australian Standard.

This case should serve as a reminder for companies not to take tilt-up construction lightly, explained WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch.

"Tilt-up construction is high-risk and the regulations are there to ensure that the risks are avoided, or at least kept to a minimum," McCulloch said.

"In this case, there was a high risk of serious injury or even death of any of the labourers had been struck by the falling panels.

"With work like this, it is imperative that everyone understands their role and at what stage in the process it is safe to remove the bracing so the panels do not collapse.

"An enormous amount of time and resources has been invested in lessening the risks involved in tilt-up construction over recent years, and it is disappointing to see that some operators are still not complying with the laws.

"A comprehensive code of practice on tilt-up and precast concrete construction has been available for some years, and copies of the current code should be made available on all sites where tilt-up work is taking place," McCulloch said.

The construction site's supervisor was fined $60,000 over this incident in July 2011.