Uncompleted structures and scaffolds may have been damaged or are unstable, trees may have ‘widow maker’ branches caught in them and people rushing to complete work may take short-cuts.

WorkSafe Victoria’s General Manager for Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said employers had an obligation to ensure safety standards were in place an applies while workers had to work carefully to reduce risk.

“Early reports are that there has been considerable damage, however the extent of that damage in workplaces may not be known for some hours.

“Planning demolition or repairs is essential to ensure potential hazards are identified and a method determined to ensure the work is done safely.

“Strong winds can occur at any time of year in Victoria and must be anticipated. That means uncompleted structures and scaffolds must be secure at all times,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“It is not just people who are working on the clean-up who are at risk but also members of the public, vehicles, private property and neighbouring businesses, infrastructure and emergency service workers who are called in to help after an incident.”

A range of publications on construction industry safety can be found online at worksafe.vic.gov.au or by calling WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Detailed recommendations on temporary bracing during construction of masonry walls can be found in Australian Standard AS 3700 - Masonry structures and in Masonry Structures - Commentary (Supplement to AS 3700), section C11.9.

NOTE: Employers must notify the WorkSafe Victoria of the collapse or partial collapse of any part of a building or structure.