A West Australian construction company has been fined $65,000 over the death of a man who fell seven metres through a skylight.

Cochrane and Sons pleaded guilty in the Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court this week to failing to ensure a safe workplace for a person who was not an employee and, by that failure, causing the death of a man.

In March 2011, Cochrane and Sons began construction on a 28m long, 18m wide and seven metre tall steel shed at Wye Farm in Salmon Gums near Esperance, in the state’s Great Southern region.

The steel frame of the shed was erected and in May 2011, five workers began installing the wall cladding and roof sheeting.

WorkSafe said an apprentice employed by a carpenter working for Cochrane and Sons needed to cross the roof to retrieve some screws for the polycarbonate skylights.

He stepped from a zincalume sheet over the ridge and onto a polycarbonate sheet.

But the sheet gave way and the worker fell about seven metres to the ground, suffering fatal injuries, WorkSafe said.

Safety mesh had not been installed under the roof, there was no edge protection on the building, and there were no harnesses for workers performing tasks at height, Worksafe said.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said it was a tragedy waiting to happen.

“After the incident, the company bought two rolls of safety mesh that cost $80 a roll, along with two roofer’s kits containing static lines and harnesses for $450 each,” he said.

“This is not a huge outlay to prevent a fall, and unfortunately it was made too late for the worker who lost his life on this job.”

Self-employed carpenter Brendan Keith Purchase – trading as Brendan Purchase Carpentry Service – pleaded guilty earlier this year to failing to provide fall prevention and edge protection, and was fined $4000.

WorkSafe says 17 WA workers have died as a result of falls in the past four years.

Source: AAP