Construction Safety: Beware of Falling Hazards

A construction accident which took place recently on a rural property west of Ipswich is an example of the risks associated with merely setting foot onto a construction site and why each worker should be trained on general safety in the form of The White Card course.

The accident in question occurred when an excavator operator’s leg was crushed by a tree as he worked on a dam wall at a property in the rural west of Ipswich.

The worker’s leg was broken when a huge tree fell onto the cab of the heavy machinery he was operating and crashed into it, breaking his leg. Although co-workers tried to help the worker get free, the fallen tree pinned him to the cabin.

Emergency services were called in and managed to free the man. The impact of the fall almost knocked the man out of the cabin and emergency services personnel had to use harnesses to support his body weight as they worked to free him.

They said he was lucky to be alive and had the tree hit the man in the torso, he would not have been so lucky. Queensland Ambulance Service had to administer pain relief to the injured man during the operation.

The cause of the incident has not yet been identified but it is an example of how freak accidents on construction sites cause serious injuries and possibly even fatalities when workers least expect it.

The following excerpt from an article explains what happened,

9-2007711-ips030913exca03a_t460Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Ripley station Officer Ian Bland said if the tree, which had a 30cm diameter, hit the man’s torso he might not have survived.

“When you have a tree of that size come crashing through, he was lucky that it caught him and he was unlucky that it zcaught him. If it came through high it could have hit his chest or abdomen,” he said.

“The group around him did quite well in stabilising him when it first happened.”

It is believed the man was reconfiguring the dam wall on the property off Grandchester-Mt Mort Rd.

The tree came through the cabin as he removed vegetation from the dam wall at 11.40am.

The Laidley QFRS crew arrived and with the help of co-workers stabilised the man.

The crew cut off one of the tree’s branches and used the Jaws of Life to cut into the excavator’s hydraulic controls to free his fractured leg. It took the QFRS nearly 90 minutes to free him from the cabin.


Employers should ensure that they take certain measures to reduce risks involved with falling objects to avoid incidents such as this one from occurring again.

It is important that employers identify and manage all the risks associated with falling objects. This is similar to the process that should be undertaken when managing other risks on construction sites – identifying the hazard, assessing the risk associated with it, eliminating it or substituting with something less hazardous and as a final resolve minimising the risk of the incident occurring by implementing the appropriate controls.

It is also important that once these control measures are designed and implemented, employers provide the adequate training to their employees and familiarise them with the safety plan.