Solar Company fined $35,000

A solar company has pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to maintain a safe workplace in Leopold.

AI Solar and Electrical Service Pty Ltd was fined $35,000 and ordered to pay costs of $4,678 by the Geelong Magistrate’s Court on Monday, November 20.

A WorkSafe inspector discovered two workers on the roof of a two-storey Leopold home, close to 5.5 metres from the ground, without proper fall preventions in place in December 2021.

No guard railing had been installed, with only one of the workers tethered to the roof with a loose lanyard and two ladders providing access to the roof with no lifting equipment for the solar panels.

WorkSafe revealed that the company prepared a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) identifying guard railing and harnesses as measures to control a fall risk. However, they weren’t used despite the guard railing available on site.

The court heard that the company could have reduced the risk of falls by using passive fall preventions or a work positioning system, like a guard railing or a travel restraint system.

WorkSafe Health and Safety executive director Narelle Beer said employers needed to ensure they had a SWMS for working at a height and that it is followed.

“This year alone, 369 Victorian construction workers have been seriously injured falling from heights, with many left suffering life altering injuries,” she said.

“We know how to prevent falls, and we know the devastating cost of not preventing them, so it beggars belief that anyone would ignore safety when working at heights.”

Employers should prevent falls from heights with a fixed or portable ladder, implement administrative controls, a fall arrest system, a positioning system, and a passive fall prevention device.

Employers should also eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction where practicable.