WorkSafe Inspections To Focus on Falling Objects

WorkSafe inspectors continue their focus on falling objects at building sites across Victoria.

WorkSafe has warned that falling objects are the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry and not only do they possess a risk to workers but also to people on the street or nearby work sites.

Over the past 5 years there have been 5 fatalities and 721 injuries caused by falling objects on construction sites.

One incident that took place in January involved a piece of timber falling 22 floors at a Southbank site.

Another incident happened when a piece of MDF sheeting fell through an open window and 63 floors to the ground on Little Latrobe Street.

In another incident a tower crane dropped a 11.5 ton concrete slab at a Clayton construction site.

While these incidents were not fatal and fortunately nobody was injured, they could easily have been, like an incident in September last year when a 48 year old man died when a kibble full of concrete fell from a crane. Another man was seriously injured at the Box Hill construction site.

WorkSafe warned that some of the common causes for falling objects on construction sites include gaps in safety screens, holes in safety netting, kick and toe boards missing in scaffolding, debris and material coming loose while being lifted. The work safety authority also warned that unsecured items stored near edges or exposed to high winds can cause objects to fall.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen reminded us that even small objects can cause serious injury when falling from a high height.

“Every year WorkSafe is notified of hundreds of incidents involving falling objects, which are not only dangerous for workers, but also for members of the public passing by construction sites,” she said.

“Loads being lifted through the air must also be properly secured, and as we saw last year, the consequences can be tragic when a crane drops its load and there are workers below.”

“Risk control measures for falling objects are well known so there is no excuse for employers failing to implement them.”


Work Safe went on to describe the steps employers and site duty holders can take to address the risk of falling objects on construction sites,

  • Eliminating the risk through off-site assembly of equipment that would otherwise be performed at an elevated edge.

  • Using containment systems or securing objects through substitution, isolation or engineering controls.

  • Using guardrail systems that incorporate mesh infill panels and kickboards.

  • Isolating the risk with barricades or fencing to create exclusion zones at ground level.

  • Implementing engineering controls such as perimeter safety screens, overhead protection gantries, enclosed perimeter scaffolding, and restraining loose material.

  • Administrative controls such as lines markings and signage to advise lanyard systems are to be used on tools, or to monitor the possibility of windy weather.


WorkSafe Urges Caution Following Falling Object Incidents

WorkSafe Victoria is reminding all employers about the importance of addressing the risks of falling objects on construction sites following an incident in Melbourne’s CBD recently.

A large metal prop fell from the 56th level of the building site and struck a work shed 53 levels below at the Collins Street site.It happened while workers were removing bracing for the 3 metre prop, which was used to support a concrete slab.

Thankfully nobody was injured in the incident however in cases like this workers as well as members of the public are at risk. Read more at

Company Fined for Death of Irish Construction Workers

A trucking company was issued a $160,000 fine over the 2 fatalities that occurred on an East Perth construction site in November 2015.

The incident resulted in the deaths of 2 Irish workers, 27 year old Gerry Bradley and 24 year old Joe McDermott. The 2 were working on an apartment development and were on a smoking break when concrete tilt panels weighing more than 3 tonnes each slipped and crushed the workers.

The concrete panels were being unloaded from a trailer when one slipped and crashed onto the area where 4 men were sitting, 2 were uninjured but the 2 Irish construction workers were killed.

It was heard that the deaths were preventable because there were “simple and practical steps” that the company could have taken to ensure the panels were secure. The magistrate said the panels had been secured individually with straps and chains and were unloaded from one side of the truck which caused the vehicle to be unstable and the panels to fall on the workers.

The company was remorseful over the deaths however the other 2 parties charged had pleaded not guilty.