Firms fined over $1m for NSW worker death

·2-min read

Two companies have been fined a total of more than $1 million after a worker was fatally electrocuted while on the roof of a property in Sydney's outer west.

Joel White was dismantling edge protection on the roof of a Moorebank site when he was electrocuted on February 11, 2019.

The 25-year-old labourer died after contact between high-voltage power lines and a steel handrail he was holding.

Another worker tried to help and suffered severe flash burns to his legs.

Riverwall Construction Pty Ltd, the company engaged to replace the damaged roof, was this week convicted and fined $600,000 in the NSW District Court.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act by exposing the two men to risk of death or serious injury.

In his judgment, Judge David Russell said there were simple and well-known steps readily available to eliminate or minimise risk.

"These steps should have been taken long before any worker stepped onto the roof," he said in the decision published on Wednesday.

Perry's Roofing Pty Ltd, a small family business subcontracted to replace the roof, was in July fined $450,000 for its role in the fatal incident.

Perry's Roofing had pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its work health and safety duty.

Judge Russell said Riverwall Construction had greater culpability in the fatal incident than the roofing business.

"Riverwall Constructions had overall supervision on the site," he said.

"It had an obligation to inspect the site prior to commencement, to record and assess site-specific risks, and to propose suitable site-specific controls."

The failure to properly assess the Moorebank site was an "egregious" error, Judge Russell said.

Riverwall Construction was given a discount on sentence for its early guilty plea.

The company was fined a total of $600,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution's costs.

SafeWork NSW executive director Matthew Press said electrocution was the second-leading cause of traumatic injuries and fatalities in the NSW construction industry after falls from heights.

"Businesses must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance of an overhead power line," he said.

AAP has contacted Riverwall Construction for comment.