Metal prop dropped 56 levels at construction site

Tuesday, 05 March, 2019

Metal prop dropped 56 levels at construction site

A metal prop has fallen from the 56th level of a Melbourne CBD construction site, prompting warnings about the dangers that falling objects pose.

Initial investigations suggest that workers were removing bracing for the three-metre prop, which was used to support a concrete slab, when it fell over a parapet at the Collins Street site at about 8 am last Thursday and struck a work shed 53 levels below.

No workers were in the shed at the time and no-one was injured.

The serious nature of the incident has prompted WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen to warn all employers about the dangers of falling objects.

"We are thankful there were no injuries, but this is a stark reminder to every duty holder that managing risks associated with falling objects is a priority," Nielsen said.

She said falling objects were a leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry and posed a risk not just to workers, but to people walking past worksites.

"There have been five deaths and 721 injuries caused by falling objects at construction sites in the past five years," Nielsen said.

"Measures to control risks for falling objects are well known so there is no excuse for duty holders not to implement them."

In January, serious incidents involving falling objects included:

  • A piece of timber that fell 22 floors after it snapped in half while being lifted to a loading bay at Southbank.
  • An MDF sheet that fell through an open window and 63 floors to the ground on Little Latrobe Street.
  • A tower crane that dropped a concrete slab weighing about 11.5 tonnes at a construction site at Clayton.

No-one was injured in these incidents; however, in September last year, a 48-year-old worker died and another was seriously injured when they were allegedly struck by a kibble full of concrete which fell from a crane at a Box Hill construction site.

Risks of falling objects at building sites are a current focus of WorkSafe inspectors when they visit Victorian construction sites.

Employers and site duty holders must ensure they prevent falling objects by:

  • 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;
  • implementing 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.

Image credit: © Photo

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