Falls the Focus of Cross Border Construction Program in Mildura

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The prevention of falls on construction sites was the recent focus of a joint program by SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria in Mildura in June.

The Cross Border Construction Program involved inspectors jointly visiting local building sites on both sides of the border to minimise the risk of workers being injured due to falls.

Inspectors were identifying safety risks and breaches and highlighting the similarities and differences between regulations in the 2 states.

Falls are a serious issue for the construction sector. Over the past decade 17 construction workers died due to a fall in Victoria.

In NSW, falls are responsible for the most number of deaths on construction sites. In 2017 the NSW government introduced new laws giving SafeWork NSW inspectors power to issue penalty notices of $3600 to companies and $720 to individuals for fall from height related  breaches.

Falls are just one of the health and safety issues that construction workers are faced with. In this high risk industry, it’s important that health and safety are the main priority.

One of the ways to ensure safety on construction sites is through worker training. Every worker must be adequately trained for the specific construction site and tasks they undertake but they must also be in possession of a White Card to prove they have completed general construction safety training as mandated by the federal government. Complete the White Card course online today and you are eligible to work on any construction site in Australia and across borders because the accreditation is nationally recognised.

Read more at http://www.worksafenews.com.au/news/item/665-falls-the-focus-of-cross-border-safety-program.html

WorkSafe ACTs Focus on Work from Height Safety

WorkSafe ACT is narrowing in on employers who compromise workers’ safety when it comes to working from height and can now issue an on-the-spot fine of up to 3,600 to offenders.

In the 2017-18 period, there were 72 workers compensation claims in the state for falls from heights as well as many near-misses reported where the appropriate safety protections were not in place.

Given the significant risks of any fall from height, even falls from relatively low height, the consequences for the workers can be catastrophic. Falls can leave workers with debilitating injuries and in some cases prove fatal.

The state government decided to allocate WorkSafe ACT with greater powers to prevent these types of injuries and enforce safety requirements.

Stronger regulatory action including prosecution will be used by WorkSafe where appropriate.

A spokesperson from WorkSafe said this should send a message to the industry that safety must remain the main priority on worksites.

Read more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/worksafe-act-now-issues-spot-fines-target-falls-heights/#.Wxzw-CAlHQV

Queensland Fatal Skylight Fall Under Investigation

An incident during which a worker fell 5 metres onto a concrete floor is under investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

It appears the worker was attending to a radio tower on the roof of a storage shed when a skylight collapsed, causing him to fall through and onto the concrete floor below.

Alarmingly Workplace Health and Safety Queensland reports that more than 3200 worker’s compensation claims were accepted annually where a worker fell from a height. Of these fall from height claims 54 per cent are for serious injury with 5 or more days off work.

According to WHSQ there have been 2153 prohibition notices issued since 2012, 1832 improvement notices and 47 infringement notices for issues relating to falls from heights or risk of working at heights, so it’s quite clear that not enough is being done in the industry to address falls.


Find out more http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/investigations-underway-queensland-workers-fatal-skylight-fall/#.WsDdypclE1k

Statistics Show 20 Vic Worker Injured due to Falls Every Week

Another incident has occurred forcing us to consider whether we are doing enough to guard against injuries and fatalities due to falls on the work site.

A 53 year old worker recently died after he fell from a ladder, on the mezzanine floor to the ground floor at a Melbourne site.

The worker fell 4.3 metres at the building in Maidstone.

The incident has prompted WorkSafe Victoria to issue a warning regarding work from height safety.

The authority says 20 people are injured every week in Victoria due to falls in the workplace.

Employers must remember that whenever there is a risk of a construction worker falling more than 2 metres, employers need a plan to manage the risk.

But that doesn’t mean falls from lower heights can’t also be serious. Even possible falls from relatively low heights need to be addressed.

Marnie Williams,WorkSafe health and safety director said just because a fall hasn’t occurred doesn’t mean the site is safe, you could just be lucky. We cannot leave safety to luck.

Find out more https://sourceable.net/twenty-vic-workers-injured-weekly-in-falls/

Importance of White Card Training to Prevent Falls on Construction Sites

The unions are claiming that self-regulation in the construction industry is leading to a number of fatalities on building sites as a result of falls. Unions are subsequently calling for stricter safety regulations and enforcement to stop construction workers falling and dying as a result on worksites. The union warns that more deaths should be expected unless self-regulation is done away with.

According to Safe Work Australia falls from heights are a major cause of injury and death on Australian worksites. Some worksites are more prone than others, construction being one of them.

According to Safe Work Australia, there are 800,000 workers in Oz that work at heights. These workers including tradespeople, maintenance and cleaning workers are at risk of suffering a fatal fall and statistics show that on average 26 of them fall to their deaths every year. Also an additional 8000 are injured annually.

According to the secretary of Working At Heights Association, Gordon Cadzow regulators aren’t enforcing the safety standards which is why this is the second most common cause of death in the injury. As he explains there needs to be someone to enforce the law, because companies cannot be trusted to self-regulate. He explains that falling from heights gives victims no second chance.

A lack of safety regulations particularly relating to fall protection, is resulting in a number of incidents, many of which prove to be fatal. People who work from heights are dependent upon fall protection systems made up of ropes and anchors to remain safe. When these systems are ignored or neglected by employers, workers are basically going in unarmed.

Experts say that although there is a certification system in place to protect workers that work from heights, it is “hopelessly unreliable and unregulated” and abseil anchor points are often untested which places workers at risk.

According to one industry expert, Peter Ferguson from the Australian Rope Access Association people are being allowed to get away with not applying the rules. As he explains the rules are in place but they prove pointless because they aren’t being enforced or policed, leaving too much room for mishaps.

Some industry insiders are finding that fall protection may be implemented, even certified but they aren’t effective, in fact some may prove faulty.

People in the industry are calling for WorkCover or an accreditation body to conduct site inspections and to threaten companies with penalties in order for them to comply with the rules.

Ladders still a major Risk

One of the biggest risks it seems when it comes to falling on work sites applies to falls from ladders. According to statistics at least 90 per cent of the ladders utilised in Australia aren’t up to Australian standards.

The regulator has been approached and asked to address this issue but nothing has been done, the unions say this lack of action will result in more unnecessary and preventable fatalities due to falls from heights.

Workplace Death from Ladder Fall

In 2012 a Melbourne based plumber was killed when he fell from a ladder on a construction site. The man was working from the ladder at the time and following his death and an investigation, the Victoria Coroners Court found that the ladder was defective and unsafe for work.

The plumber’s friends and family say that he should still be alive and would have been if the correct ladder had been used.

This tragic incident is an example of what can happen when defective equipment is used and in fact when work from heights is not properly controlled and regulated.

One of the most important considerations when it comes to work from heights, particularly in the construction environment is that all workers have received the necessary training.

The general construction safety course also known as the white card course teaches workers the basics of safe work from heights. Workers learn the dos and don’ts of work from heights as well as the rights and responsibilities on the construction site. That is part of the reason why this White Card training is mandatory for all construction workers because at some point in their career they will be required to work from a height.

Unions say state regulators aren’t acting on Safety Issues

The unions say that despite the numerous fall from height fatalities, state workplace regulators aren’t stepping up and acting on the issue. They are calling for more policing of the work from height sector.

Regulators may be suffering from a lack of funding such as Victoria’s WorkCover authority WorkSafe who have had their funding cut by almost $500 million.



Workers Responsibility in Avoiding Slips and Trips on Site

Slips, trips and falls are the most commonly occurring cause of injury on construction sites and on work sites in general which is why this aspect of OH&S requires and warrants more attention than less commonly occurring hazards. More workers are killed every year because of a slip, trip or fall than any other way on a construction site and despite being aware of risks, workers are still making mistakes which end up costing them dearly. This post attempts to recap some of the most basic duties of employees in avoiding slip, trip and fall injuries.

  1. Undergo the necessary training. Complete the general construction safety training course, White Card course which covers the basic aspects of construction site safety. Not only is it a mandatory legal requirement but it also covers important aspects of fall protection.
  2. Maintain a clean and clear work area. While you as a worker obviously do not have control over the entire site, you can control your work area. Keep it clean and clear of debris, clutter and tools which can present a tripping hazard to yourself or others. Also clean up any spills or chemicals on the ground as workers may slip on it.
  3. Utilise PPE as directed. PPE and fall protection needs to be utilised according to your training and instruction from your supervisors. Keep your PPE and equipment in good condition and store correctly to prolong its lifespan and effectiveness.
  4. Not sure, Ask. If you have any concerns regarding fall hazards left unattended or unaddressed raise these issues with a supervisor or safety rep. If you have forgotten any aspect of your safety training, ask for advice or additional training. Good communication is key in promoting safety on site and preventing careless behaviour which can contribute to falls and other hazards.