Industry Update: Court Ruling on 2015 BMU Failure
This court case is a reminder of the importance of regular maintenance according to the relevant Australian Standards and the manufacturer’s and legislative requirements. As Property and Facility Managers, we need to ensure that our contractors are competent for the works they undertake and that they fulfil the required maintenance on all services.
This compliance is crucial as it could be life-saving.
In October 2015, two workers from a Sydney cleaning company were cleaning the external windows of a 13-storey office building from a BMU. The BMU’s load-bearing bolts failed and caused the unit to fall 25-30 metres onto the awning above the street.
Both workers suffered extensive injuries.
The BMU contractor had been responsible for repairing and maintaining the BMU since 2003. They were contracted to continue this work and train employees in using the BMU until a new property management services company took control of the building.
In the 12 months prior to the incident, the BMU Contractor conducted four inspections of the BMU but did not identify any cracks in the load-bearing bolts. However, they failed to dismantle the supporting brackets for inspection and the bolts themselves were not regularly tested or replaced. The BMU was due for a major 10-year inspection worth approximately $2,000.
The BMU contractor was charged with breaching their “Primary Duty of Care” to others and “Failure to comply with health and safety duties” under the NSW WHS Act. The BMU contractor pleaded guilty and was fined $300,000 from a maximum of $1.5 million.
The judge stated: “The likelihood of the risk occurring was high, but the means of preventing it were simple and inexpensive. The BMU contractor could have refused to set up the BMU until it had been properly inspected.”
This court ruling is a good reminder to reflect on our own practices in maintaining BMUs. In the weeks following the incident, SafeWork NSW issued a safety alert outlining actions for property and facility managers to take to ensure our practices in relation to BMUs follow Australian Standards