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.