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Safety blitz targets demolition sites: WorkSafe Victoria

24 November, 2016

WorkSafe VIC inspectors have begun a month-long blitz targeting dangerous and sub-standard demolition work.

Inspectors expect to visit more than 800 demolition and construction sites across the state to ensure work is carried out as safely as possible.

WorkSafe Construction Program Manager, Dermot Moody, said building and demolition companies that failed to follow appropriate safe procedures when undertaking demolition work were risking disaster.

"Demolition can be high risk and the exposure of any worker or member of the public to injury from unsafe demolition work is unacceptable," Moody said.

"Too often WorkSafe inspectors have had to attend sites where demolition has gone wrong or work practices have put people at risk."

"By zeroing in on demolition work over the next four weeks we want to drive home the message that those in charge must meet their health and safety responsibilities or face the consequences."

Moody said two recent incidents in Melbourne - a wall collapse at a demolition site in North Melbourne, and the discovery of asbestos containing material in the rubble of a demolished hotel in Carlton - underlined the importance of ensuring safe demolition practices were followed.

"During our visits, inspectors will ensure those doing the demolition have identified the hazards and controlled the risks," he said.

"Inspectors will also verify compliance with the laws associated with construction work and asbestos removal."

Moody said if an inspector identified sub-standard demolition practices, the work would be stopped immediately.

"The work will not recommence until the inspector is satisfied that the person in charge of the demolition has rectified all the safety issues," Moody said. 

Moody said while the majority of demolition companies followed the rules, a small number put workers and the public at risk by rushing jobs and trying to cut corners.

"It is a tragic reality that when a demolition goes wrong the consequences for workers or the public, such as crush injuries, falling objects and exposure to hazardous substances, can be serious, or even fatal," he said.

"It’s why planning the demolition process and monitoring the progress of the work is crucial to safety."

During the campaign, inspectors will pay particular attention to a range of risks, such as: 

  • Isolation of services such as power, water and gas
  • Ensuring asbestos has been identified and removed before demolition begins
  • Site security
  • Public protection, including protective structures & exclusion zones to prevent falling objects landing outside the site
  • Traffic management
  • The safe removal of hazardous substances
  • Working at height
  • Structural stability at every stage of the process to prevent unplanned collapses

The WorkSafe campaign will run until mid-December. Members of the public who have safety concerns about demolition sites should phone the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

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