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Worker Removes Harness, Falls to Death

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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Authorities are investigating the falling death of a 27-year-old worker who plunged 13 floors Monday (Oct. 10) at a construction site in Perth, Australia, various reports said.

Marianka Heumann, of Germany, had reportedly just removed her safety harness moments before her fall at approximately 2:40 p.m., according to PerthNow. First responders arrived at the scene and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Heumann, described as a “backpacker” worker, had worked at the Concerto apartment project for three months applying sealant to ceilings at the development, the report noted.

Manager Recounts Incident

A spokesman for the general contractor told PerthNow Tuesday (Oct. 11) that Heumann “did impeccable work…she did an amazing job.

“She decided to stop work and undid her harness and put it aside,” said Gerry Hanseen, managing director of Hanseen Construction. “She saw something small that she hadn’t done. She went back and stood on a drum, instead of a step ladder and that tippled over and she fell down one of the [ventilation] shafts.”

He noted the workers next to her didn’t have a chance to warn her or catch her from falling.

“It was just an impulsive decision. She was fully inducted. She knew what she was doing,” he said.

“Its [sic] just awful,” said Hanseen.

One report indicated construction work at the non-union site was not halted after the fatality.

Questions, Probe Underway

Police and the country’s workplace safety authority, Worksafe, have opened investigations into the incident. Worksafe had reportedly heard five separate complaints about the jobsite before the fall.

The incident has also sparked questions about the hiring practices on Australian building sites. PerthNow reports, “A ‘White Card’ qualification to work on a building site can be obtained by registering online for $39 AUD ($29 USD), where previously workers had to physically attend one-day courses.”

The contractor also has a history with regard to foreign workers. A Federal Magistrates Court in Perth found Hanseen Construction guilty of exploiting foreign workers in 2008, according to WA Today.

The company was fined $174,000 for 21 breaches of the Workplace Relations Act in relation to Australian Workplace Agreements, the report noted.

The 38-story building is set for completion in 2017; it has been under construction since late 2015.

The project is being developed by Finbar.


Tagged categories: Australia; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Fall protection; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Safety; Sealant

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