Falls the focus of Cross Border safety program

Media Release | 28/08/2018

A joint inspection blitz by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW will focus on preventing falls on construction sites in the Echuca Moama region.

Inspectors from both sides of the border will come together as part of the Cross Border Construction Program to talk to employers about how they can meet their safety obligations.

The inspectors will also discuss the similarities between Victorian and NSW work health and safety regulations, as well as identifying any on-site safety risks or breaches.

The program will take place from August 27 to 31.

SafeWork NSW Acting Executive Director, Operations, Rick Bultitude 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, the NSW government launched a 12-month safety blitz in November 2017 which has seen inspectors visit more than 460 construction sites and issue $115,000 in fines.

“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, on-the-spot fines of up to $3,600 can be issued under new laws introduced in 2017.”

WorkSafe Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice Michael Coffey said falls remained a leading cause of death in the construction sector.

Two Victorian workers have died this month due to serious fall injuries, including a man in his early 30s, who fell into a deep trench at a Wallan construction site.

In the second incident, a man in his 40s died in hospital on Saturday after he fell through a stair void at a townhouse construction site at Rosebud.

“In the past 10 years falls at construction sites have claimed the lives of 19 Victorian workers," Mr Coffey said.

“Employers must do everything they can to protect workers from falls from heights, and our visits to Echuca Moama will focus on this.

“Where inspectors do identify the risk of a fall, or where safe work method statements are not in place for high risk construction tasks, enforcement action will be taken."

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.

For further information on preventing falls at construction sites visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au or www.safework.nsw.gov.au

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