$166,000 in fines after wall collapses on man

Contractors and sub-contractors associated with the Kiama Blue project were fined a total of $166,000 after a wall collapsed on a 24-year-old labourer.Egyptian worker Mohammed El Gendy suffered serious injuries including multiple skull fractures, when an unstable, 1.6m by 2.7m brick wall weighing 450kg fell on him on November 18, 2006.Mr El Gendy had been in Australia about two months and had only been working on the Kiama Blue project six days when the collapse occurred.He had not learned to speak English and had no experience as a labourer when he began working on the multi-storey hotel and convention centre project.In November 2006, stage two of the project was underway and worth about $12 million.According to the Industrial Court of NSW, labour hire company O&H Construction hired Mr El Gendy without a working visa and did not assess his experience.In the days leading up to the incident, a freestanding, double brick wall had been constructed.No warning signs or barriers had been erected to prevent workers going near the wall which was described by the court as “inherently unstable”.About 8.10am on the day of the accident, Mr El Gendy was standing about 3m from the wall which had formwork frames propped up against it. Two other men were next to the wall and, when it began to move, one pulled the other away from the falling wall to safety.However a falling block struck Mr El Gendy on the head and he fell with concrete blocks on top of him as well as some of the steel formwork frames.The court heard workers on the construction site were not adequately supervised by Romeo Ibrahim, a director of concrete sub-contracting company REI Construction, and Yassir Hussein a director of O&H Constructions.Earlier this month, Mr Ibrahim and Mr Hussein were fined $13,000 each while O&H Constructions was fined $130,000.In a separate judgment, Darren Mercer – the sole director of Colmerc, the principal contractor on the site – was fined $10,000 with the court finding his culpability was less than that of the first three defendants.
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