By Andy Young
Retailers and operators are reminded to check their health and safety compliance as the owners of a pub have been fined $150,000 after a worker fell through an open trapdoor.
The worker at the Wallacia Hotel suffered serious leg injuries as a result of the fall. Yoorooga Holdings Pty Ltd, the owners of the Wallacia Hotel, were convicted of a breach of section 19(1) the Work Health and Safety Act (NSW) 2011 for failing to ensure workers were not at risk of falling through the trapdoor to the cellar and not using barriers or warning signs to alert workers that the trapdoor was open.
Executive director of SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover NSW), Peter Dunphy said the risk of injury was obvious and the measures to eliminate the risk were simple.
“The incident could have been easily prevented had they installed barriers or installed an alternative access to the cellar.
“This decision sends a strong message to the hotel industry of the need to have effective safe work systems in place to prevent injuries to workers.”
The incident occurred on 20 February 2013 when a bottle shop attendant was retrieving stock from shelves situated above the trapdoor and fell through the open void, landing on the cellar floor 2.4 metres below. The trapdoor had been left open by another employee who had accessed the cellar to retrieve stock.
The bottle shop attendant suffered multiple fractures to her right heel and an injury to her left heel which required extensive surgery and rehabilitation.
At the time of the incident there were no barriers or warning signs to prevent people entering the area when the trapdoor was open.
Since the incident the hotel’s owners have installed an alternative access to the cellar with built in staircase as well as slip resistant steel stair treads, painted stair edges yellow for high visibility, installed key access to the staircase and installed additional lighting.