WorkSafe Vic launches blitz to prevent construction falls

Tuesday, 27 February, 2024

WorkSafe Vic launches blitz to prevent construction falls

WorkSafe Victoria has launched a statewide blitz to tackle fall risks such as unsafe or incomplete scaffolds, inappropriate ladder use, steps, stairs and voids after hundreds of construction workers suffered workplace harm in 2023 from falls on the job. Nine Victorian workers died in 2023 as a result of a fall from height, including four in the construction industry. The number of accepted claims from construction workers injured in falls from heights increased to 441, from 421 in 2022 and 404 the year before.

WorkSafe Executive Director Narelle Beer said inspectors will be placing extra emphasis on ensuring employers are doing everything they can to prevent falls. Beer said the safest way to prevent falls is to work on the ground; when that is not possible, employers should use the highest level of safety protection possible, such as scaffolding, guard railing and void covers.

“As a leading cause of injury in the construction industry, falls from height is always a priority for our inspectors — but they will be making this a particular focus as they visit building sites over the coming weeks,” Beer said.

The construction sector reportedly made up a third of the 1352 total falls-from-height claims accepted last year. Of the construction workers injured, 160 fell from ladders, 46 from steps and stairways, 31 from buildings and structures, 27 from scaffolding, and 13 from openings in floors, walls or ceilings. Beer said that WorkSafe will take action against employers who fail to implement the highest level of risk control measures to protect workers from falls. “A fall can happen in just seconds and it can turn your world upside down — so there’s no excuse for taking shortcuts when working at heights,” she said.

The statewide blitz will be supported by falls prevention messaging across social media, newsletters and online, reminding employers and workers that falls can be fatal or cause life-changing injuries. To prevent falls from height, WorkSafe advises employers to implement the highest possible measures from the five levels in the hierarchy of controls; each level after level one is only recommended if no higher measures can be implemented.

  • Level 1: Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Level 2: Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Level 3: Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Level 4: Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Level 5: Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

Image credit: Boonchu

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