Worker dies after tragic spike in construction falls

Victoria's construction industry is being urged to check fall prevention measures after a worker died and several others were injured in a recent spate of serious incidents.


WorkSafe is investigating the death of a 56-year-old worker after an incident at a residential construction site in Doncaster East last Tuesday 26 March.

It is understood the worker was pouring concrete when he fell more than two metres and sustained life-threatening head injuries about 4:30pm. The man died in hospital on Thursday.

The death is the 11th confirmed workplace fatality for 2024. There were 18 work-related deaths at the same time last year.

WorkSafe responded to a serious fall on a building site in each of the first three days of last week – making it four such incidents in nine days, and six in the previous three weeks.

  • A 28-year-old worker suffered serious spinal and head injuries on 7 March, after falling 3.7 metres from a ladder at a construction site in Carrum Downs.
  • A day later, a 32-year-old working from first storey floor joists fell approximately three metres onto a concrete slab in Glen Waverley, sustaining head and shoulder injuries.
  • A 31-year-old worker was seriously injured after a three metre fall while working from roof trusses at a building site in Brunswick East on 18 March.
  • On 25 March, a 27-year-old carpenter was taken to hospital after falling 3.1 metres when a ladder slid out from under him at a construction site in Dromana.
  • A 53-year-old worker suffered back and pelvic injuries after falling from the second storey of a house under construction in Portarlington on 27 March.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was frustrating because falls from height were preventable, yet remained a top cause of workplace harm.

"A fall can happen in just seconds but the consequences can last a lifetime, including devastating injuries and loss of life," Dr Beer said.

"It might be easy to think that a tragic incident will never happen on your site, but if safety is not the top priority every day then the chances are high that it will."

Tragically, nine workers died in Victoria last year as a result of a fall from height, including four in the construction industry.

More than 400 claims were also accepted from construction workers injured in a fall from height in 2023. Of those injured, 160 fell from ladders, 46 from steps and stairways, 31 from buildings or structures, 27 from scaffolding, and 13 from openings in floors, walls or ceilings.

Dr Beer said WorkSafe inspectors had conducted more than 3,700 visits to construction sites so far this year, issuing more than 1,100 notices.

"We have a dedicated team of inspectors visiting sites across the state and there is zero tolerance for employers who fail to take the well-known risks of falls seriously," she said.

WorkSafe completed 39 successful prosecutions relating to the risk of a fall from height in 2023, with the courts imposing fines totalling more than $1.9 million.

To prevent falls from height employers should implement the highest possible measures from the five levels in the hierarchy of controls:

  • Level 1 Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Level 2 Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Level 3 Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Level 4 Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Level 5 Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

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