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Date PostedJanuary 4, 2013

Fall Incident serves as warning to Construction Industry

How safe are the young workers on your site? That is a question that all principal contractors and employers should be asking themselves following an incident in Sydney’s north where a teenager narrowly escaped with his life after falling 10 meters down a lift shaft.

The 17 year old teenager fell a whopping four storeys and could easily have lost his life, thankfully he was not killed but suffered skull and spinal injuries.

Read what happened from this post on Abc.net.au:

A teenager has survived a 10-metre fall down a lift shaft on a building site in Sydney’s north.

The 17-year-old fell four storeys and landed on concrete in Lane Cove at about 9:00am (AEDT).

The Construction Forestry Electrical Mining Union says he has been taken to hospital with a suspected fractured skull and as well as spinal injuries.

The Union’s Mark Sutcliffe says the boy tried to get up after the fall.

“He’s lucid, he’s in the hospital answering questions,” he said.

“They believe he may have a cracked skull and he’s going to be very sore and sorry for himself.

“At this stage though they’re quite happy that he can talk.

“He did try and get up and obviously his workmates kept him down until such time as the ambulance arrived.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-07/teen-survives-four-storey-lift-shaft-fall/4414906

Details have not yet emerged about whether the company had implemented the correct safety procedures regarding guarding rails and fall hazards but falls have been identified as the biggest cause of construction industry deaths.

Some employers are of the false impression that work from a low height will not result in injury and so does not require fall protection but this is wrong. Even falls from relatively low heights can be deadly or debilitating and so this risk needs to be managed.

Falls can occur in all industriesbut they are most common in the construction industry and so need to be managed.  Control measures must be in place before a worker starts work at a height, such as ensuring working platforms are in place before formwork is erected.

Some cases warrant more than one control measure at a time to be implemented in conjunction with one another. Physical barriers are the preferred method of preventing a person from falling from height, examples include edge protection systems and fall protection covers.

An edge protection system can be made of guard railing to be used on the edge of working platforms, walkways, stairways, ramps, lift shafts and landings and should run parallel to the working surface.

Holes or openings are often covered with wire mesh. These should not be used as a working platform. All covers should be securely fixed around the hole. Signs should also be attached to the cover to warn people that there is a hole underneath. This is a particularly dangerous hazard as many lives have been lost when workers fell through these mesh covers.

According to the law employers have a responsibility to ensure their workplace is safe. They must also provide workers with a safe working environment. This means controlling the risk of falls from any height before work can begin. A hazard identification should be conducted and the risk assessed so that a safe system of work can be developed and implemented so that accidents such as this one are a thing of the past.

 

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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