News & Views
30th September 2020
SafeWork NSW Inspectors Targeting Work at Heights Safety
SafeWork NSW inspectors are targeting work at heights safety, as part of its ongoing focus on reducing fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry.
So far this year there have been 3 fatal and 25 serious falls reported to SafeWork NSW in the construction industry alone, 8 of which falls were through fragile or brittle roofs including skylights.
SafeWork inspectors continue to see unacceptable compliance levels when it comes to working at heights on construction sites, with Sydney sites being the worst offenders.
During the blitz, inspectors will focus on work near voids and edges, and on roofs. Inspectors will take a zero-tolerance approach to those putting workers lives at risk when it comes to working at heights.
What you can do
Here are some things you can do to protect workers:
Eliminate the need to work from heights where possible
Assess roofs for fragile and brittle materials and ensure controls are in place to prevent persons from falling through the roof
Provide adequate edge protection by using jump screens, scaffolding or guardrails - ensuring ALL components are in place
Securely cover and visibly mark, or edge protect, all open voids/penetrations in formwork or concrete slabs
Ensure scaffolds are installed, regularly inspected and maintained by a competent person, and that a handover certificate is provided prior to use
Use a suitable working platform such as scaffolding, boom lifts or scissor lifts
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.
On the spot fines of up to $3,600 for businesses and $720 for individuals apply for putting workers lives at risk when working at heights.
For practical tips on how to work safely at heights in construction, SafeWork has developed a simple checklist for principal contractors and site supervisors.
A copy of Falls from Heights in Construction - Blitz 2.0 project findings from 2019, can be downloaded here.
For more information, visit the SafeWork NSW working at heights website page here.
For assistance in ensuring that your workplace is safety compliant or require safety resources, contact NECA's WHS Team on 1300 361 099 or email email@example.com