Power station fall a warning to all

Monday, 12 January, 2009

A man is recovering in hospital after surviving a 30–40 metre fall in the LaTrobe Valley in Victoria’s east on 8 January. The 47-year-old man was part of a team carrying out maintenance on a boiler at the Yallourn W Power Station.

It is not yet clear how the rope system he was using failed and caused him to fall into an ash hopper beneath a boiler. The bottom of the hopper slopes inwards and is likely to have slowed his descent.

WorkSafe’s acting Executive Director, Eric Windholz, said the outcome was fortunate though the consequences could have been much worse: “Most falls from this height lead to death. Much lesser falls also kill, break bones and leave people in wheelchairs or with a brain injury.

“This incident is a wake-up call to everyone to do what they can to make workplaces safer. In any working environment, using the right equipment, consultation, training, planning and preparation are what really make the difference.”

January is one of the most dangerous months with an average of 3.8 deaths each year over the past decade. Three people died in January 2008 and five in 2007.

Twenty-one traumatic work-related deaths were reported to WorkSafe in calendar 2008 compared with 22 in 2007 and 29 in 2006.

In the 2007–08 financial year, around 29,000 were hurt at work in Victoria. Of these, 77 people had life-threatening injuries.


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