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Building contractor fined $55,000 over the death of a worker

A Tasmanian construction company, Sherwood Enterprises, has been fined $55,000 over the death of an employee.

In August 2010, Leigh Anthony Reaney, died from head injuries after falling from the roof of the Devonport Homemaker Centre onto a concrete slab. He was flown to the Royal Hobart Hospital but was not able to survive the fall.

The 20-year-old construction worker had been reattaching his safety harness to anchor points along a gutter when he fell. The subcontractor Sherwood Enterprises pleaded guilty to failing to ensure an employee was safe from injury and risks to health.

Magistrate, Michael Brett said that there was a clear and foreseeable risk of injury, given employees are required to work at a height. He continued to say, that even though Sherwood had adopted a new workplace occupational health and safety policy, there was a high level of contractual pressure to get the job done quickly.

Mr Brett added that attaching a fixed line to the building would have been a relatively simple matter and would have achieved acceptable protection from the health and safety risk. He concluded that there were several factors that had worked in the company’s favour, including their previous safety record and their acceptance of responsibility.

Mr Reaney's father described the loss of his son as being "absolutely traumatic", expressed disappointment with the outcome. "I just don't feel that both companies have been held accountable enough," he said.

A spokesman for Sherwood told the ABC the fine was not justified, and workers had been told that morning to keep their harnesses attached.

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