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SafeWork NSW announces construction industry safety crackdown

07 July, 2017

SafeWork NSW has recently announced a safety crackdown on the construction industry, following a recent spike in serious injuries to workers on Sydney building sites.

Recently, three workers sustained injuries in falls from heights on construction sites across Sydney, including one fatality at Lidcombe. Between January and May 2017, at least 13 construction workers were killed or seriously injured in falls.

In response to these alarming statistics, SafeWork NSW is planning a safety blitz on construction sites across Sydney. This will include the launch of a new Construction Safety Team, as part of a $2.5 million boost to safety on major infrastructure projects announced in the NSW Budget.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy, said Sydney’s construction and infrastructure boom is no excuse for neglecting worker safety.

"Every worker in the NSW construction industry has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Effective safety systems do not have to be expensive or complicated, and being busy is no excuse for risking workers’ safety," he said.

"A fall, even from a relatively low height, can result in serious injury or death. Most of the recent incidents could have been prevented if safe work systems such as safety harnesses or work platforms had been used."

Dunphy said inspectors will have a strong presence on construction sites over the coming months.

"Inspectors will be conducting planned and unannounced visits to construction sites across Sydney, and will show zero tolerance to workers being put at risk of serious or fatal injuries," he said.

"Sydney construction companies can take this as a warning: if you are putting worker safety at risk, SafeWork will come down hard on you."

During site visits, SafeWork NSW inspectors will check:

  • Adequate controls are in place to manage the risks of falls;
  • Scaffolding and edge-protection systems are properly installed and maintained;
  • All potentially hazardous openings on a building site are securely covered;
  • Suitable controls are in place on fragile and brittle roofs, and in the presence of other hazards such as skylights;
  • Ladders are being used appropriately.

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