Minister for Better Regulation The Hon. Matt Kean today announced a state wide compliance blitz to crackdown on construction businesses that fail to protect workers from the risks associated with working at heights.
Over the past five years, the number of falls from heights reported to SafeWork NSW has more than tripled, with the majority occurring in the construction industry. So far this year, there have been eight fatalities and many more catastrophic injuries, which have had a massive impact on workers and families lives.
To combat this alarming trend, SafeWork Inspectors will undertake a number of blitzes over the next 12 months to secure compliance, raise awareness and promote a fair and level industry playing field when it comes to controlling the risk of falls from heights.
Inspectors will be targeting employers who cut safety corners and risk their workers’ lives when it comes to working at heights, and may issue an on-the-spot-fine of up to $3600 if the risk to workers is serious or imminent, or if the employer is a repeat offender.
Here are some things you can do to protect workers:
- Eliminate the need to work from heights where possible
- Use a suitable working platform such as scaffolding, boom lifts or scissor lifts
- Provide adequate edge protection by using jump screens, scaffolding or guardrails – ensuring ALL components are in place
- Ensure scaffolds are installed, regularly inspected and maintained by a competent person, and that a handover certificate is provided prior to use
- Prevent unauthorised access to the scaffold while the scaffold is incomplete or unattended
- Securely cover and visibly mark, or edge protect, all open penetrations in formwork or concrete slabs
- Provide workers with safe means of access and egress to work areas
- Only use fall restraint or fall arrest systems when edge protection or work platforms are not reasonably practicable
- Many falls take place when people are using ladders. You should consider whether an elevating work platform or scaffolding would be safer and more efficient.
For more information about how to work safely at heights see the SafeWork website or call 13 10 50.
Source: SafeWork NSW