Safety blitz aims to prevent falls on construction sites

6 July 2016

WorkSafe inspectors will target construction sites across Victoria as part of a month-long campaign to prevent deaths and injuries caused by falls.

 

Inspectors will make almost 1000 visits to construction sites in July with a key focus of assessing safety measures in place to prevent falls and provide information to builders and sub-contractors on their responsibility to control the risk.

Falling is one of the major causes of death and serious injury in the construction industry. According to WorkSafe statistics, of the 62 construction workers who have died at work since 2005, 21 have fallen to their death.

The most recent fatality occurred on a high rise building site in Carlton in February, when a worker fell 20m down a service shaft after the platform he was working on collapsed.

Since 2005, more than 3400 construction workers have been injured seriously enough in a fall to make a compensation claim.

WorkSafe Construction Program Manager, Dermot Moody, said the focus on falls was part of the regulator’s ongoing commitment to reducing fatalities and serious injuries in the construction sector.

“It is a tragic fact that falls are one of the most common causes of serious injury or death among construction workers in Victoria,” Mr Moody said.

“You don’t have to fall from a great height to be killed or suffer permanent injuries, so if inspectors visit a site and find that there is an immediate risk of a fall, work will stop and not be allowed to restart until the site is compliant.

“WorkSafe is determined to get the message across to every builder and sub-contractor in the construction sector that they must do everything they can to prevent falls.”

Some of the falls reported to WorkSafe in the past month include:

  • A worker fell from a step ladder while using a hammer drill and  fractured his wrist (at Mernda near Whittlesea)
  • A worker fell 3m down a stair void suffering serious head and spinal injuries (Ashwood)
  • A bricklayer fell from a trestle platform suffering a dislocated knee and shoulder (Keysborough)
  • A builder fell more than 2m through a void suffering a fractured skull and collarbone (Brunswick)
  • An air conditioning mechanic climbing a ladder while carrying another ladder fell 3m and suffered concussion and cuts to his head (Fitzroy)
  • A worker fell from a ladder and broke his leg (Drouin)
  • A worker fell 2m from a ladder suffering arm, shoulder and leg injuries (Essendon)
  • A worker fell from the roof of a house suffering pelvis fractures (at Cockatoo, near Gembrook)
  • An apprentice fell from a ladder and suffered a fractured left wrist (Napoleons, south of Ballarat)

Mr Moody said every builder and sub-contractor should reassess the effectiveness of their fall prevention control measures. “Don’t assume that because you have never had a fall, your site is working safely. It may just mean you have been lucky – but safety can never be left to chance,” he said.

Mr Moody said construction site safety remained a key priority for WorkSafe and inspectors would conduct almost 13,000 site inspections across Victoria this year.

For further information on preventing falls, visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au

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