Falls leave three men in hospital

WorkSafe is warning all employers to ensure they take fall risks seriously after a string of incidents in the past week left three men in hospital with severe injuries.
News article published

Friday 06 Dec 2019

Industries and topics
  • Construction
  • Fall prevention
  • Slips, trips and falls

On Wednesday, a 28-year-old roof contractor was taken to hospital with a broken ankle and hip after he fell seven metres through a hole in a box gutter at an industrial construction site in Epping about 8.15am.

The man was wearing a harness but it was not attached to anything when the incident occurred.

On the same day, a 63-year-old roof contractor fell about three metres from a ladder while inspecting a roof at a Frankston South residential unit about 4.30pm.

He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.

A man was also taken to hospital with lacerations and head trauma on Thursday last week after he fell about 2.7 metres from a balcony at a home construction site in Ivanhoe.

Inquiries into all three incidents are ongoing.

Two people have also died from a fall from height on construction sites this year.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Barbara Hill said falls were a leading cause of serious injury and death in Victoria.

"Three men have been left with severe injuries just weeks from the Christmas holidays," Ms Hill said.

"No family should have to deal with the trauma of hospital visits to a seriously injured loved one because employers failed to adequately protect them from fall from height risks."

"We urge all employers, principal contractors, contractors and workers who are working at height to review, and if required, revise their Safe Work Method Statements to ensure appropriate fall controls are in place."

WorkSafe inspectors are targeting fall from height and scaffolding safety risks this summer to ensure all employers are meeting their obligations to protect workers.

Since November 18, WorkSafe has visited 69 Victorian construction sites and issued 17 notices relating to fall from height safety failures.

A further five notices were issued for scaffolding related safety failures.

Ms Hill said inspectors had identified a failure to properly implement fall prevention controls and correctly develop Safe Work Method Statements as common issues during site visits.

"WorkSafe inspectors have a zero tolerance approach to sites that do not take the fall risks seriously," she said.

"Where we identify failures to meet occupational health and safety obligations we will not hesitate to take enforcement action."

In November, Concorp Group Pty Ltd was found guilty of two charges following a 2016 incident in which a 54-year-old fell about 12 metres down an open shaft at a Melbourne construction site.

The company was fined $650,000 for each charge.

To prevent falls from height employers should first:

  • Consider if they can eliminate the risk by doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.

If that is not possible, they should use:

  • A passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • A positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system.
  • A fall arrest system, such as a catch platform or safety nets.
  • A fixed or portable ladder or implement administrative controls.