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New law aims to lower injury toll in the construction industry

16 October, 2007

Over the past 20 years, on average three Western Australian construction workers have died each year in work-related incidents.

In addition, each week in WA, around 37 construction workers are injured seriously enough to miss at least a day’s work.

New regulations due to come into effect early next year are one measure aimed at helping lower this tragic toll.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said that the construction industry had one of the highest injury rates of all industries, and that a concerted effort was being made to improve safety in the industry.

“The construction industry has steadily improved its safety performance over recent years, but there is still a long way to go and these new regulations are just one of many initiatives designed to improve safety in the industry,” Lyhne said.

The new regulations implement the National Standard for Construction Work in Western Australia and aim to protect workers from the hazards associated with construction work by assigning certain responsibilities to a range of people involved in the design and construction process.

These people include main contractors, people in control of construction work, designers and clients commissioning design and/or construction work as part of a trade or business.

Some of the key requirements of the new regulations are:

· The preparation of Occupational Safety and Health Management Plans for all construction sites where five or more people are working, or are likely to be working, at the same time;
· The preparation of Safe Work Method Statements for all high-risk construction work;
· The compilation and recording of information relating to hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control processes for construction projects; and
· Consultation between parties involved in the design and construction process.

The new regulations will come into effect in early 2008.  They will be introduced in two phases, with the regulations coming into effect for the civil and commercial sector a few months before the residential sector.

Lyhne said an important aspect of the new regulations was that they would help to provide national consistency in construction work.

“The State Government is committed to national consistency in occupational safety and health laws, and these new regulations will help to deliver exactly that,” she said.

“The National Standard for Construction Work is the culmination of considerable consultation between government, unions and the construction industry, and WorkSafe will continue to work with these key stakeholders to ensure that everyone who will be affected will be aware of the changes before they come into effect.”

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