Construction site visits highlight safety issues

WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW inspected 43 construction sites in Mildura and Buronga as part of a joint workplace safety blitz from 22 to 26 August.

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Published: 05 September 2022

The operation focused on raising awareness about the risks of falls from height and exposure to crystalline silica dust, which can cause deadly lung and respiratory diseases if inhaled.

Inspectors from both authorities also advised on issues such as electrical safety, hazardous substances, site security and Safe Work Method Statements.

WorkSafe inspectors identified 19 safety issues that were able to be addressed on the spot, including six where employers didn't have a Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement for high-risk silica work.

WorkSafe also issued seven improvement notices, and referred one duty holder for investigation for failing to control the risks of a fall of more than two metres.

SafeWork inspectors issued five improvement notices for inadequate electrical testing, failure to have a site safety management plan and inadequate site signage.

The agencies also met with employers, hosted a Tradies Breakfast, and held information sessions for 44 carpentry, plumbing and electrical apprentices.

WorkSafe Director Construction and Earth Resources Matt Wielgosz reminded duty holders of the importance of preparing for any high risk work by having appropriate safety processes and documentation in place.

"Workplace safety is not something you can set and forget, it should be the first priority in each task to ensure every worker can get the job done safely," Mr Wielgosz said.

"Together with SafeWork, WorkSafe inspectors will continue to work with local construction workers and employers to help duty holders understand their obligations."

SafeWork NSW Acting Director Construction Services Regional Nathan Hamilton reiterated that non-compliance around working at heights will remain a focus when visiting construction sites.

"Sadly, falls from heights, in particular falls under four metres, is the number one killer in the construction industry," Mr Hamilton said.

"Ladders not being fit for use and scaffolding which has been altered and not regularly inspected attribute to a number of falls related incidents and is an area we will continue to address."

The operation was part of the ongoing Cross Border Construction Program, which aims to highlight workplace health and safety issues in regional centres along the Victoria-NSW border.