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Date PostedJune 7, 2014

White Card Update: Falling Hazard Prevalent on Construction Sites

A teenager has suffered head injuries after a bad fall from a roof in New South Wales.  The young man may have been involved in construction work being done on the roof of a home when the incident occurred.

SafetyCulture.com.au reported:

Workcover is investigating an accident last week where a teenager sustained head injuries after falling from the roof of a home at Stanwell Tops, north of Wollongong.

 The 14-year-old boy was taken to Sydney’s St George Hospital in a serious condition after falling three metres.

 A hospital spokeswoman says the teenager is in a stable condition.

 A Workcover spokesman says two workers were carrying out roof work when the accident happened.

 New South Wales Police are also investigating.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/nsw-teenager-falls-three-metres-from-roof/

When working on construction sites, especially when working from roofs or heights the danger of falling is a serious one which can result in injury or death.

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Image Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/man-killed-in-roof-collapse-at-sunnybank/story-e6freoof-1226365636827

Another fall incident resulted in a hefty fine for a roofing company. The company was found negligent of safety breaches resulting in the fall of a worker after failing to provide sufficient roof edge protection. The worker was seriously injured during the incident.

An article on Au.new.yahoo.com reported:

An Auckland roofing firm has been ordered to pay over $50,000 for its safety failings after a staff member fell from a roof, fracturing his back.

In the Auckland District Court on Thursday a judge ordered Metalcraft Industries to pay a fine of $43,000 and reparations of $10,000 after an employee fell three metres from a one storey building while on the job.

The man slipped and fell while trying to secure a safe hold on a damp edge of a roof on a Glen Innes home, a statement from the Department of Labour (DOL) said.

He fractured his lower back, several ribs and injured his shoulder.

A DOL investigation found the fall could have been prevented if Metalcraft Industries had put in place roof edge protection for its three staff members working on the house.

“We expect everyone with staff or contractors working at height to actively manage this significant hazard,” northern general manager John Howard said.

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/queensland/a/-/latest/13771117/roofing-firm-to-pay-53k-for-workers-fall/

What can be done to prevent falls?

A fall from any height can result in injury or even death so a system of risk management is the best approach to address the issue. The system includes identifying, assessing and controlling the risk   or planning fall protection at the design stage of the construction project.

Falls from heights are the most common cause of death on building and construction sites, so developing and following a safe system of work is essential.

Step 1: Identify the hazards.  This could include for example: Working on a slippery or unstable surface or an elevated level.

Step 2: Assess the risk by taking the following elements into account:

  • Height at which the task is being performed
  • Condition of the supporting surface
  • The surface below the workers and the injury they could cause if fallen upon. Eg. unsheeted floor bearers and joists that could cause serious injury
  • Amount of experience the worker involved has
  • Weather conditions of outdoor sites
  • The duration of the task

Step 3: Control the risk

Fall protection measures should be developed to suit the particular task and the severity of the risk. In developing emergency procedures, the different types of emergency and rescue scenarios that might arise should be considered.

Eliminate the hazard

Working on the ground is the most effective method of protecting workers from fall hazards. This is not always possible, so the hazard has to be managed.

Substitute with a safer surface

Use temporary work platforms such as properly erected scaffolds or elevated work platforms.

Isolate the hazard

Use physical barriers to protect workers from falls.

Engineering controls

Use “work positioning” systems that will position and safely support a worker at the location where the task is to be performed.

Administrative controls

Administrative controls require a high level of training and supervision to be effective and are often supported with other fall protection measures. Eg. Use of warning signs to warn workers of falling hazard.

Personal protective equipment

Use personal protective equipment to minimise injury in the event of a fall. Make sure workers are trained on correct use of PPE.

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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