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Trans-Tasman targets falls prevention in construction campaign

13 February, 2008

Workplace safety and health authorities across Australia and New Zealand are joining forces in February and March to target the prevention of falls in the construction industry.

A total of around 900 inspections will be conducted across Australia and New Zealand, with a minimum of 80 site visits in Perth and WA regional areas.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said that falls prevention was a priority focus area for Australia’s workplace safety authorities because falls were one of the most significant causes of workplace death in the construction industry.

“You don’t need to fall far to be killed or seriously injured – in fact, there have been deaths from falls of less than a couple of metres,” Lyhne said.

“Sadly, an average of two Western Australians die every year as a result of workplace falls, with around 1260 additional injuries, many of them serious and permanent.

“This is the reason that falls from height is one of WorkSafe’s operational priority areas and also the reason this national inspection campaign is so important.”

The campaign has two phases – an education phase, which has already been undertaken, and a compliance phase, which will begin soon around the country.

In WA, discussions on the campaign have been held with industry associations, such as the Housing Industry Association and Master Builders Association, as well as unions involved in the construction industry with a view to these groups notifying their members of the upcoming campaign and the measures they need to have in place.

“The construction industry should be well aware of its responsibilities with regard to falls prevention, so inspectors will be enforcing the legislative requirements if they come across any unsafe work practices,” Lyhne said.

“Falls are readily preventable, and it need not be difficult or costly to ensure that suitable barriers or fall arrest systems are organised before a tragedy can occur.

“A code of practice on falls has existed in WA for the past 17 years, with the original code being initiated in response to the number of fatalities being recorded in the construction industry at that time.

“The current code – updated in 2004 - provides information on the identification of common fall hazards at all workplaces and the use of fall-arrest equipment and systems, along with chapters on general work practices such as the use of ladders.

“It also has a strong emphasis on promoting safe design principles for buildings to eliminate fall hazards from the outset, in keeping with prevention strategies to eliminate hazards and control risks at the source.”


The Code of Practice on the Prevention of Falls in Workplaces can be downloaded at no cost from WorkSafe’s website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.



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