White Card Update: Queensland Worker Awarded $369,000 for Fall

Despite the fact that slips, trips and fall hazards claim the largest number of lives on worksites each year, it appears some employers do not take these hazards as seriously as they should.

An incident involving a fall 5 years ago is example of this and for her suffering the worker involved has been awarded $369,000.

The women suffered a trip while on the job which resulted in her injuring her lower back, tailbone and hip which then progressed into in a depressive disorder.

The woman was apparently taught and instructed to walk backwards quickly on the job when dealing with aggressive clients.

Read what a post on SafetyCulture.com.au had to say about the incident and hefty pay-out which it resulted in:

courts-crestThe Supreme Court Rockhampton on Friday awarded a 54-year-old disability worker $369,000 for an injury resulting from a work fall five years ago.

The female manager, who had been trained to walk backwards to better deal with aggressive clients, tripped, fell and suffered injuries to her lower back, tailbone and hip and developed a major depressive disorder.

Justice Duncan McMeekin ordered the disability charity to pay the woman compensation for her physical and psychiatric injuries and loss of earnings.

The court heard that staff were trained to walk backwards on the balls of their feet, in a slightly crouched position, while looking ahead at their aggressor and not where they were going.

The woman, who was 152cm tall, weighed 96kg and was “hardly athletic”, was demonstrating the “back steps” technique at a Rockhampton sports club when she fell.

“It seems to me clear beyond doubt that directing a middle-aged . . . overweight lady to walk backwards on the balls of her feet while keeping her attention directed not to where she was going but to the ‘aggressor’ in front of her . . . involves a risk of injury that she might fall over,” Justice Duncan McMeekin said.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/04/qld-disability-worker-awarded-369000-for-fall-injury/

The post goes on to explain how the employees of this company were taught by a trainer to walk backwards which the court found would increase the employees’ chances of injury.

Although this incident did not occur on a construction site there are similarities which members of the construction industry can learn from, particularly the need for employers to provide workers with a safe work environment and safe system of work. Clearly instructing workers to walk backwards does not constitute a safe system of work.

Although the law does hold the employer responsible for the safety of the work environment in general, workers also have an important role to play. Workers need to be particularly cautious when there is a possibility of slipping, tripping or falling and exercise common sense when engaging in these activities.

Although the woman involved did receive a hefty pay-out, no amount of money can compensate for the physical and emotional damage that such a serious and debilitating injury can cause.


Basic Tips for Working from Heights

Falls from heights have been identified as the main cause of injury in construction workers. Civil construction sites in particular possess a high fall injury record.

Employers are often to blame, because they fail to provide supervision and fall protection, or fail to train workers on how to effectively use fall arrest systems. Many employers have been prosecuted for this, so in order to safeguard themselves employers should follow safety procedures.

1. Develop and Allocate responsibilities to workers for managing fall prevention. It is not only the employer’s duty to manage fall prevention workers also have a role to play.

2. Identify All Fall Hazards, for example work from house roofs, work on fragile or unstable surfaces, work on sloping or slippery surfaces, work near an edge, hole, pit or shaft.

3. Assess potential dangers and possible circumstances that may increase the risk of the fall.

4. Question whether the work can be done from the ground to eliminate the hazard or can a work positioning system be used to minimise the risk of falling.

5. Implement fall prevention measuresto control the risk, if the risk cannot be removed and train workers on these measures.

6. Ensure Emergency Procedures are in place in the event of a fall and workers are well trained in emergency response procedures.

7. Use the correct plant for the task and do so safely. Also ensure fall prevention devices are properly maintained and used.

8. Regularly conduct risk assessments and access safety measures at every site and as changes occur, review measures regularly.


White Card Online News Update: Man Falls from Height on Doreen Construction Site

According to a WorkSafe report a man has fallen off the roof of a house under construction on a Doreen site. The worker is in a critical condition in hospital. This follows an incident in Oakleigh South where a man died after falling from a factory roof. WorkSafe has issued an alert to warn members of the industry of the dangers of falling, particularly in the domestic construction sector.

WorkSafe had this to say on their website:

A Kilmore man is in hospital after falling 2.4m at a housing development at Doreen this morning.

WorkSafe is investigating the incident which happened around 8.10am at a site in Midland Rd.

While the investigation is at an early stage, WorkSafe understands he was on top of a house frame marking the location of roof trusses.

He was flown to the Alfred Hospital in a serious condition.

On 13 June a man died at Oakleigh South after falling from a factory roof.

The Director of WorkSafe’s construction division, Allan Beacom, said working at height was a major source of serious workplace injuries and deaths, particularly in the construction sector.

“WorkSafe is running projects targeting basic hazards in the domestic construction sector, which will look at ensuring people are using the right equipment and that they have the right training to do the job safely.

“As we say in our current safety campaign, the overwhelming majority of incidents can be prevented at little or no cost.

“It takes only a little time and thought to put safe practices in place, but an ongoing effort is needed to ensure they’re consistently maintained,” Mr Beacom said.

 “This is a tragedy for the man, his family and workmates and should send a message to the entire community – employers and workers alike – that high safety standards must be in place, and applied, at all times.

Seven people have died in Victorian workplaces this year.

Source: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/wsinternet/worksafe/sitetools/news/man+seriously+hurt+after+fall+at+doreen+building+site

WorkSafe suggests the following steps in tackling fall hazards on construction sites:

Step 1: Develop and Allocate responsibilities to Everyone for managing fall prevention

Every worker and employer has a responsibility to manage the prevention of falls on the site. For each job undertaken responsibility needs to be assigned for control over fall prevention measures including proper equipment is used correctly, safety measures maintained and workers are trained in fall prevention.

Step 2: All Fall Hazards Need to be Identified

All tasks that involve working at heights, where workers can potentially fall more than 2 meters is a fall hazard. Examples are:

  • Work from house roofs
  • work on fragile or unstable surfaces
  • work on sloping or slippery surfaces
  • work near an edge, hole, pit or shaft.

Step 3: Assess the Risks of Someone Falling from Height

For each task undertaken that has been determined as potentially dangerous due to a fall hazard, it needs to be determined the circumstances that may increase the risk of a fall. Things that need to be examined are:

  •  The nature, size and layout of the workplace.
  •  The duration, extent and type of work to be undertaken.
  •  What height will workers be required to access or undertake work?
  •  Training and experience of employees undertaking the work.
  •  How to get to the work area.
  •  The number and movement of people and plant on the work site.
  •  Conditions of work.

Step  4 – Determine What Measures Must Be Taken To Prevent Or Minimise The Risk Of A Fall


  • Can the work be done from the ground or lower height
  • Can a passive fall prevention device be used
  • Can a work positioning system be used such as an industrial rope access
  • Can a fall injury prevention system be used such as a harness
  • If none of these can be done a fixed or portable ladder or administrative control must be introduced

Step 5-Implement Fall Prevention Measures

Implement measures to control the risk, if the risk cannot be removed and train workers on these measures.

Step 6 –Ensure Emergency Procedures are in place in the event of a fall

Make sure workers are well trained in this

Step 7 – Plant and Prevention Devices

Use the correct plant for the task and do so safely. Also ensure fall prevention devices are properly maintained and used.

Step 8 –Regularly Review

Check Risk Assessments and Safety Measures at every site and as changes occur, review these measures regularly.

More information visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au

 Posted by Steven Asnicar