Spate of falls in­ci­dents prompts SafeWork warn­ing

Australasian Timber - - ASSOCIATIONS -

SAFEWORK NSW is urg­ing busi­nesses and work­ers across the State to take ex­treme care af­ter two work­ers were killed and eight oth­ers se­ri­ously in­jured in falls from heights since the be­gin­ning of the year.

On 31 Jan­uary, a 62-year-old as­bestos re­moval­ist died when he fell ap­prox­i­mately eight me­tres while re­mov­ing sheets from a fac­tory roof at Greenacre and on 7 Jan­uary, a 73-yearold New­cas­tle builder died when he fell ap­prox­i­mately 1.3 me­tres from a mo­bile scaf­fold while re­pair­ing a prop­erty at Hamil­ton East near New­cas­tle. Other in­ci­dents in­cluded a 62-year-old bar­man at a Manly golf club suf­fer­ing a frac­tured skull af­ter fall­ing from a lad­der while at­tempt­ing to clean gut­ters and a 33-yearold labourer at Orange break­ing his leg af­ter fall­ing ap­prox­i­mately three me­tres while re­mov­ing sheet­ing from a roof.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dun­phy said work­ing from heights was haz­ardous and busi­nesses needed to have safety sys­tems in place.

“These in­ci­dents high­light that a fall, even from a rel­a­tively low height, can re­sult in se­ri­ous in­jury or death,” Mr Dun­phy said.

“Trag­i­cally, most of these in­ci­dents could have been pre­vented had safe work sys­tems such as safety har­nesses or work plat­forms been used.

“Dur­ing 2013/14 there were 4,170 work­ers com­pen­sa­tion claims for falls from heights at a cost of more than $49 mil­lion.

“We’re urg­ing NSW busi­nesses to re­view their safety sys­tems so that no more work­ers are in­jured.”

Un­der NSW work health and safety laws, work­places must have safety sys­tems in place to pre­vent work­ers fall­ing from heights. Busi­nesses must pro­vide work­ers with in­for­ma­tion, in­struc­tion, train­ing and su­per­vi­sion in risk con­trol pro­ce­dures and work­ers are re­quired to fol­low those pro­ce­dures.

Busi­nesses can pre­vent falls from heights by: • Car­ry­ing out work on the ground or on

a solid con­struc­tion; • Pro­vid­ing a fall preven­tion de­vice such as a se­cure fence, edge pro­tec­tion, work­ing plat­forms or cov­ers; • Pro­vid­ing a work po­si­tion­ing sys­tem which in­cludes any plant or struc­ture, other than a tem­po­rary work plat­form, that safely holds a worker in a work po­si­tion; and • Pro­vid­ing a fall ar­rest sys­tem such as an in­dus­trial safety net, catch plat­form or safety har­ness sys­tem. “Whether it’s mak­ing sure a step lad­der is po­si­tioned prop­erly or that a new worker is in­ducted and aware of the risks, ev­ery­one in needs to work to­gether to pre­vent falls from heights,” Mr Dun­phy said.

For more in­for­ma­tion on safely work­ing with heights, in­clud­ing the free pub­li­ca­tions Safe work­ing at heights, and the Code of Prac­tice: Safe Work on Roofs Parts 1 and 2, visit www.safework.nsw. gov.au or call 13 10 50.

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