Three men hospitalised after falls at work sites

Monday, 16 December, 2019

Three men hospitalised after falls at work sites

WorkSafe is warning all employers to take fall risks seriously, after three men were hospitalised with severe injuries in the span of a week. A roof contractor sustained a broken ankle and hip after falling seven metres through a hole in a box gutter at an industrial construction site in Epping, NSW. The man was wearing a harness, but it was not attached to anything when the incident occurred.

On the same day, a 63-year-old roof contractor fell three metres from a ladder, while inspecting a roof at a Frankston South, Melbourne, residential unit, sustaining serious head injuries that required medical attention. A man was also taken to hospital with lacerations and head trauma after falling 2.7 metres from a balcony at a home construction site in Ivanhoe. Inquiries into the three incidents are ongoing. According to WorkSafe, falls are a leading cause of serious injury and death in Victoria.

“Three men have been left with severe injuries just weeks from the Christmas holidays. No family should have to deal with the trauma of hospital visits to a seriously injured loved one because employers failed to adequately protect them from fall from height risks,” said Barbara Hill, WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety.

Employers, principal contractors, contractors and workers who work at height are encouraged to review and revise their Safe Work Method Statements to ensure appropriate fall controls are in place. To reduce the risk of falls, WorkSafe encourages employers to do all or some of the work on the ground, or from a solid construction. Employers can also use devices such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guard rails, safety mesh or elevated work platforms to minimise the risk of falls. Using a positioning system (eg, a travel-restraint system), a fall arrest system (eg, catch platforms or safety nets) and a fixed or portable ladder could also reduce the risk of falls on work sites.

Since November 2018, WorkSafe has visited 69 Victorian construction sites and issued 17 notices relating to fall from height safety failures, with five more notices issued relating to scaffold safety failures. Failure to implement fall prevention controls and to correctly develop Safe Work Method Statements are common issues at work sites.

“WorkSafe inspectors have a zero tolerance approach to sites that do not take the fall risks seriously. Where we identify failures to meet occupational health and safety obligations we will not hesitate to take enforcement action,” Hill said.

In 2016, Concorp Group was found guilty of two charges and fined $650,000 for each charge, after a 2016 incident in which a 54-year-old fell 12 metres down an open shaft at a Melbourne construction site.

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