Cross border program targets construction site falls

Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Cross border program targets construction site falls

Preventing falls on construction sites is the focus of a joint WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW initiative.

The two safety regulators will visit Mildura as part of the Cross Border Construction Program.

This involves visits to local building sites on both sides of the border, in an effort to reduce the risk of workers being injured in falls.

As well as identifying safety risks and breaches, the inspectors will also discuss the similarities, and differences, between the Victorian and NSW work health and safety regulations and how employers and workers can meet their obligations.

The inspections will take place from 18–22 June.

WorkSafe Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice Michael Coffey said in the past 10 years, 17 construction workers had died in Victoria due to a fall.

"Falls are an ongoing issue for the construction sector. Even a fall from a low height can lead to serious injury or death," Coffey said.

"While our inspectors will be ensuring local employers are aware of their obligations, they will not hesitate to take enforcement action if they identify the risk of a fall, or where safe work method statements are not in place for high risk construction tasks."

SafeWork NSW Executive Director, Operations Tony Williams said the number of falls from heights reported to SafeWork NSW had more than tripled in the last five years — with the majority happening on construction sites.

"Falls are the number one killer on NSW construction sites," he said.

"In response to this, the NSW Government introduced new laws in 2017 empowering SafeWork NSW inspectors to issue penalty notices of $3600 to corporations and $720 to individuals for breaches relating to falls from heights.

"During next week's visits, if inspectors find the risk of injury to workers is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is a repeat offender, fines will be issued on the spot, regardless of which side of the border they are based."

In 2017, there were 685 injury claims resulting from falls in the construction sector throughout Victoria.

NSW workers compensation data shows there were 12,136 claims relating to falls from heights between 2013–14 and 2015–16, representing a total cost of $327 million and total lost work time of 126,945 weeks.

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