Many different occupations require a worker to work at or from a height such as builders, roof workers, painters, electricians, plumbers, scaffolders, tilers, truck drivers and a multitude of other trades.
Working from heights means working where falling would mean falling from one level to another. Working at a height can pose a serious or life threatening risk of injury. Falls from a height are a major cause of death and serious injury in Australian workplaces.
Safe Work Australia published a report titled ‘Work-related Injuries and Fatalities Involving a Fall from Height, Australia, October 2013’. The report presents an analysis of data on fatalities, serious injuries and hospitalisations resulting from a fall from height while working in or at a workplace. An extract from this report detailed:
- Over the eight-year period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 232 workers were killed following a fall from a height, 11% of all workers killed over this period. In 2010–11, 29 workers died following a fall from height equating to 0.25 fatalities per 100 000 workers.
- Using the full eight years of the fatalities series the occupation groups with the highest number of falls-related fatalities were
- Painting trades workers (14 fatalities), Building & plumbing labourers (12), Truck drivers (10), Plumbers (10), Deck & fishing hands (9), Electricians (8), Handypersons (8) and Storepersons (8).
- Half of the falls that resulted in a fatality involved distances of three metres or less in the eight years 2003–11. Falls from ladders accounted for the greatest number of fatalities (37 fatalities 16%). This was followed by falls from vehicles (27) and falls from roofs (25).
Whilst falls can also occur at ground level by falling into holes, trenches or service pits, the above statistics show that workers who work at or from a height are at risk of injury or even death if appropriate control measures are not put in place.
Under WHS legislation, the PCBU has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
A person conducting a business or undertaking has more specific obligations under the WHS Regulations to manage the risk of a fall by a person from one level to another, including requirements to:
- ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that any work involving the risk of a fall is carried out on the ground or on a solid construction
- provide safe means of access to and exit from the workplace
- minimise the risk of falls so far as is reasonably practicable by providing a fall prevention device, work positioning system or a fall arrest system.
Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction given by the person conducting the business or undertaking.
Where an occupation requires a person to work at height, all reasonably practicable steps must be taken before commencing work to identify any risks to health and safety that working at height could pose. It may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment in consultation with workers to identify the hazards and risks that a person might face so appropriate controls can then be implemented.
Whilst a risk assessment in not necessary if you already know the risk and how to control it, a risk assessment will help you determine:
- what could happen if a fall did occur and how likely it is to happen
- how severe a risk is
- whether any existing control measures are effective
- what action you should take to control the risk
- how urgently the action needs to be taken.
When assessing the risks arising from each fall hazard, the following matters should be considered:
- the design and layout of elevated work areas, including the distance of a potential fall
- the number and movement of all people at the workplace
- the proximity of workers to unsafe areas where loads are placed on elevated working areas (for example, loading docks) and where work is to be carried out above people and there is a risk of falling objects
- the adequacy of inspection and maintenance of plant and equipment (for example, scaffolding)
- the adequacy of lighting for clear vision
- weather conditions—the presence of rain, wind, extreme heat or cold can cause slippery or unstable conditions
- the suitability of footwear and clothing for the conditions
- the suitability and condition of ladders, including where and how they are being used
- the adequacy of current knowledge and training to perform the task safely (for example, young, new or inexperienced
- workers may be unfamiliar with a task)
the adequacy of procedures for all potential emergency situations.
You may perform a single (or generic) risk assessment if you are responsible for a number of different work areas or workplaces and the fall hazards are the same. However, you should carry out a risk assessment on individual fall hazards if there is any likelihood that a person may be exposed to greater, additional or different risks.
Once a risk assessment has been completed, including consideration of the likelihood of a fall occurring and the severity of any injury that may result, appropriate control measures must then be implemented to eliminate or minimise the risk of injury.
The WHS Regulations require duty holders to work through the hierarchy to choose the control that most effectively eliminates or minimises the risk in the circumstances. This may involve a single control measure or a combination of two or more different controls.
Can the need to work at height be avoided? Carry out any work on the ground where such work could involve the risk of a fall if undertaken at height.
This might include things like prefabricating roofs at ground level; prefabricating wall frames on the ground then standing them up; reducing shelving heights to allow access to items from ground level ; or using tools with extendable handles such as paint rollers.
Can the fall be prevented by working on solid construction?
Working on solid construction means ensuring that a raised work surface is structurally capable of supporting required loads; providing barriers around the external perimeter of a raised work area and any opening in the floor to prevent falls; ensuring even and accessible work surfaces and slopes; and safe entry and exit points. Examples include working on solidly constructed stairs with fixed handrails or roofs with appropriately installed guard rails around the edges.
Can the risk of a fall be minimised by providing and maintaining a safe system of work, including:
- Providing a fall prevention device (for example, installing guard rails) if it is reasonably practicable to do so, or
- Providing a work positioning system (for example, an industrial rope access system) if it is not reasonably practicable to provide a fall prevention device, or
- Providing a fall-arrest system, so far as is reasonably practicable, if it is not reasonably practicable to provide a fall prevention device or a work positioning system. This includes systems such as catch platforms; industrial safety nets; and individual fall-arrest systems such as a lifeline, harness and rope grabs. The system implemented must be inspected before each use to limit the free-fall distance and ensure the system is in a fit and proper condition for continued use.
In some cases a combination of control measures may be necessary, for example using a safety harness while working from an elevating work platform.
Using ladders appropriately
Ladders are frequently used when working at height. However, if used inappropriately or incorrectly, falls can occur when working on ladders. When using a ladder, ensure that the appropriate ladder has been selected for the task; it is only used for short-term work; it is set up and used correctly and safely; and three points of contact are always maintained.
Use administrative controls
These should be used to support other control measures and should generally not be used as the sole control measure. Administrative controls includes warning signs; permit systems (only allowing trained people in certain areas); organising and sequencing work to not interfere with other jobs; and safe work instructions and procedures.
In some instances a combination of control measures may be necessary to provide a safe work environment. Work of long duration and higher frequency will usually require control measures higher up in the hierarchy to provide adequate protection, such as using a mobile scaffold instead of a ladder. Any control measures used must not create new hazards.
Working at Heights Training AlertForce offers the brand new nationally recognised RIIWHS204D Work Safely at heights course, which supersedes the older RIIOHS204A course. On completion, workers will possess the most up to date qualification, which provides a further range of in-depth knowledge to ensure their safety is of paramount importance.
Safe Work Australia
‘Work-related Injuries and Fatalities Involving a Fall from Height, Australia, October 2013’.
Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces – Code of Practice
Terry’s Crane Hire and director Terrence Ronald Brown put forth a guilty plea for failing to provide a safe work environment which consequently resulted in serious harm to a contractor.
In August 2010, the Mallon Company contracted Terry’s for some re-roofing work on a commercial property. An 19 year old independent contractor assisted while Terry’s used a crane for the removal of asbestos ridden sheeting. The 19-year-old climbed on top the roof to guide the crane operator. The man walked across the damaged sheets which eventually collapsed causing the man to fall to the cement floor.
Although safety mesh was in place to prevent falls below the roof, it had not continued to the frontage area as asbestos was to be removed prior.
The court found Terry’s had failed to ensure the safety of the 19-year-old, nor did they ensure that he was informed of the risks and was not adequately supervised.
The company was fined $51,000 and Brown was fined $20,000.
They were also ordered to pay $1600 in court costs.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch stated that 16 WA workers have died from falls in the past four years.
“Many others have been seriously and permanently injured as a result of falls, and it’s really disappointing when we keep finding people working at heights without all the possible preventative measures in place,” he said.
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A Worksafe investigation is being conducted at a Hazelwood Power Station following an incident involving the injury of a worker. The maintenance worker suffered significant head injuries following his 2.5 metre fall. Emergency Services stablised the man prior to airlifting him to Alfred Hospital where he remains in stable condition.
The worker is employed by Hazelwood’s major maintenance contractor Fluor. He is believed to have been spotting a maintenance taks on a station boiler when he fell.
Mantenance unions and Incolink counsellors have visited the site where they are assessing the situation and assisting the injured worker’s colleagues wherever needed.
A spokesperson for GDF SUEZ Australian Energy, the owner operator of Hazelwood Power Station, said the worker was in the vicinity of a bunker when the incident occurred.
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The pair were seen using a ladder, awkwardly supported on two table tops on a sidewalk, to hang a sign outside of a O’Connell St establishment.
SafeWork SA’s guidelines for safe ladder use call for ensuring the ladder is placed on a firm footing and that a barricade or warning signs are displayed for other people within close proximity of the work area.
“Ladders are generally considered high-risk plant and should only be used if there is no other reasonably practicable alternative, such as scaffolding or an elevating work platform,” the guidelines recommend.
The business could not be contacted for comment.
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Construction workers using ladders and working from heights on scaffolding will be the target of a new compliance and inspection campaign by the ACT Work Safety Commission starting this week following a spate of serious falls and injuries over the past year.
WorkSafe inspectors will target the residential housing industry, starting on Tuesday, to check the safety of workers at heights, and to educate them about the dangers of falls.
ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said last year’s independent inquiry into construction safety in the ACT had highlighted falls from heights as a leading cause of serious injuries.
This was backed up by analysis from Safe Work Australia that identified falls from heights as the leading cause of fatalities and a major cause of serious injuries in the industry throughout the country.
”Nationally, ladders, in particular, have been involved in nearly half of the construction fatalities resulting from working at height,” Mr McCabe said. ”We have seen a number of serious injuries here in the ACT recently which have involved falls from ladders. Several of the workers involved in those incidents have been very lucky not to have sustained even more serious injuries than they did. This inspection program will help the industry focus their attention on this specific high-risk activity.”
He said the aim of the program was to ensure both employers and workers were doing the right thing.
Inspectors would promote awareness of the provisions of relevant legislation, such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and associated regulations, as well as checking the level of compliance on sites where working at height was required.
WorkSafe inspectors would focus specifically on work from scaffolds, on roofs, and using ladders.
”Generally, our inspectors will take an educative approach in their discussions. More serious issues, however, may lead to formal notices such as improvement or prohibition notices,” Mr McCabe said.
Some infringements may also result in on-the-spot fines.
Mr McCabe said the program would run for one week initially before the commission evaluated the results to see what next steps were required.
The outcome could be further education for the industry, or more targeted inspection campaigns.
”Our hope is that this focus on working safely at height will lead to a better understanding of the requirements in this area and a higher level of compliance with those requirements in the future,” he said.
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■ In July 2012 a painter fell 3.5 metres from scaffolding at a house site in O’Connor, resulting in broken bones.
■ In August 2102 a worker fell through a collapsed house roof in Bonner.
■ In September 2012 a formworker fell 2.4 metres at a house site in Harrison, sustaining head and vertebrae injuries.
■ In September 2012 a worker at the Cotter Dam who was working on the dam’s abutment face fell 3.4 metres.
■ In September 2012 a worker fell 4 to 5 metres from a ladder when he received an electric shock while working on a roller door in Phillip.
■ In October 2012 a worker was lucky to sustain only minor bruising and grazes when he fell 4.5 metres from a ladder in Mitchell.
■ In October 2012 Jason Bush sustained significant injuries when he fell 5 metres into a lift shaft when working at the Nishi site.
■ In February 2013 a worker suffered a broken hand, elbow and shoulder when he fell 3 metres from a ladder in Gungahlin.
■ In February 2013 a fire systems worker fell through a roof space in Red Hill when a truss gave way.
■ In March 2013 a worker sustained broken ribs when he fell through a fan duct penetration in a roof at Chapman.
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The worker suffered chest injuries resulting from his falling five metres from an internal shaft at the Nishi Apartments in New Acton.
Ambulance paramedics treated him prior to being taken to Canberra Hospital, where he is currently in stable condition. Over 300 construction workers were informed that they will not be able to return to work until the safety issues are dealt with. WorkSafe ACT designated an exclusion zone around the construction site until it can be properly investigated. Originally just the accident site was roped-off but
Dean Hall from CFMEU said “When you have an accident like this on a building site, what you find is that a lot of workers come forward with concerns they’ve had,” he said.
“We’ve had a number of them approach us already with some pretty serious concerns and allegations.
“We’ve given them the undertaking that we’ll work with management to resolve those, and the site will not go back to work until that takes place.”
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The house-painter was hospitalised with suspected spinal injuries and broken bones following a four-metre fall from a ladder while painting a house.
This incident comes less than a week after a 20-year old apprentice suffered electric shock and fell five metres from a ladder and onto concrete. The apprentice accident took place the same day as a large workers rally for better workplace safety. Since the accident the apprentice has gone from “serious” condition to stable.
WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe said the most recent injury occurred early in the afternoon while the painter was working alone on a house. McCabe stressed the importance for workers and bosses alike to be careful.
Currently the painter is hospitalized and awaiting X-ray results.
McCabe also discussed the Braddon demolition site in which workers have refused to work because of serious safety concerns and the alleged mishandling of asbestos on the job.
According to the building union, a significant amount of asbestos-contaminated rubble was rejected at the Mugga Lane tip because of issues with how it was sealed.
Construction union, CFMEU stopped working at the site because of concerns that basic asbestos safety measures were not being followed.
Branch secretary Dean Hall stated that the workers were inadequately trained and were not properly equipped with safety gear. In fact, some workers were not wearing any safety gear at all and were exposing themselves to asbestos.
These same workers would reportedly then leave work with asbestos contamination on their clothes and go home to their families without proper decontamination. There are concerns also that since the large bundle of waste was not sealed properly, fibres could have traveled to other communities.
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Safework has released a press release detailing the events surrounding the injuries suffered by a student who fell while working at heights. According to the courts,the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology to blame for his injuries.
DFEEST has been fined $120,000 by the Industrial Relations Court following the injury of the student.
DFEEST, the agency responsible for TAFE, pleaded guilty to breaching section 22(2) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 by failing to ensure the student’s safety, failing to provide fall protection and failing to conduct and document a proper risk assessment for the task.
The incident occurred at the Gilles Plains campus in November 2009, when a construction student walked across and stood on ceiling beams to help remove a panel. The student lost control and fell 4.5 metres through exposed plasterboard to the floor. He broke several bones and suffered serious and permanent injuries. It was revealed in court that while DFEEST did conduct an internal investigation and amended its Working at Heights and Hazard Management policies, the amendments did not go far enough to explicitly state the proper safety measures that would be necessary to avoid a similar incident.
The court fined DFEEST $120,000 (following a 20 per cent discount to account for an early guilty plea and expression of contrition) and also ordered they pay compensation of $20,000 to the student.
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Source : http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/20120810_dfeest_fined.pdf
Neurosurgeon and member of the Royal Hobart Hospital trauma committee Pauline Waites, and Professor Richard Turner of the University of Tasmania School of medicine, stated that a growing number of serious or fatal injuries have been seen at the hospital recently.
Some injuries reported are a fatal brain haemorrhage,a spinal fracture, multiple spinal fractures and a depressed skull fracture.The hospital’s trauma meeting has revealed that they have dealt with a large number of accidents from people falling off roofs.
Though Tasmania does not keep a registry of trauma from falls, figures released by Ambulance Tasmania indicate that the number could be in excess of 5000.Workplace Standards general manager Roy Ormerod stated that the safety overseer has investigated over 200 falls in the workplace annually. Ormerod said that the definition of a fall was broad as it includes anything from a fall from a roof to a fall from the cab of a truck or even falling down one stair.
The watchdog’s priority is reportedly specific to falls from ladders, unstable scaffolding, and other high-risk work practices.
Ormerod said new tentative health and safety regulations will place greater responsibilities on employees to ensure that all risks attached to Working At Heights were minimised.
An electrical merchant was slapped with a $90,000 fine following the death of a female worker who fell through the ceiling of the store in 2010.Personal Buying Service Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure and uphold a safe work environment, and by that failure, triggering the death of a worker.
The store encompassed a large warehouse with a showroom throughout the floor area. The ceiling of the showroom was approximately 2.75 metres high and was about half the height of the warehouse. The space between the showroom ceiling and warehouse roof was often used for storage purposes for boxes and stock.Use of the ceiling to store boxes prior to 2007 had caused the ceiling to sag so a separate storage shelf was built to store the boxes.Employees were able to access this new storage area via a 1.8 metre ladder, which would require them to stand on boxes of stock. The shelf was not designed for individuals to stand on but employees say they sometimes had to in order to retrieve the items.
In September 2010, a female worker was assisting another worker in retrieving a washing machine box from the shelf. The female worker placed the step ladder on top of an empty box which eventually gave way, causing her to fall and suffer fatal injuries.
WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the untimely death was a reminder that strick safety procedures must be implemented especially when involving working at heights.
WorkSafe has been vigorously promoting their working at heights safety campaign since 2011, and now reports have indicated that following a death of a labourer, they plan to further expand on their efforts to promote safety. The worker fell from a rooftop of an Oakleigh South factory and was found later by workmates. WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations Lisa Sturszenegger has continuously promoted safety precautions for those who work at heights.
Preliminary enquiry showed that the man is believed to have fallen from up to five metres when he was replacing the factory’s roof. Sturzenegger is reportedly hopeful that this tragedy will send a message to the industry that quality safety standards must be implemented at all times.
Sturzenegger stated that proper equipment, training, supervision, risk assessment, and frequent maintenance is fundamental to maintaining safety in the workplace. This is the most recent death in a series of construction deaths this year. WorkSafe has launched a campaign this week to promote the continual need for safety requirements to be consistently met. Sturzenegger called for a continuous effort to maintain safety standards in order to limit the costs to the community for areas such as compensation, treatment and rehabilitation.
The investigation into the incident continues, and further information is expected as the inquiry develops.
Access Matrix Scaffolding was fined $22,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court for failing to provide a safe work environment which resulted in an injured worker.
The company supplies and builds scaffolding, and the incident in question occurred when a void in a floor was left unfinished and covered with particleboard.
A worker stepped onto the void with the assumption that it was supported by scaffolding and the void collapsed under his weight. He fell 2.7 metres onto the concrete slab, where he sustained the skull and spinal fractures, as well as injuries to his ribs and shoulder.
Despite the particleboard being in place as flooring, the board was spanning a greater length than th manufacturer recommended.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said that the case should act as a reminder to the importance of having preventive measures to avoid falls.
According to McCulloch, falls are one of the most frequent causes of workplace death in the construction sector. In the last four years, 16 workers have died as a result of falling.
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Unions have requested tougher consequences after a company was fined slightly more than a mine worker’s annual salary for an occupational health and safety accident that resulted in the death of a man.
John Holland received a fine of $242,000 by the Federal Court earlier this month for their breach of workplace safety laws by failing to protect staff from injury or death at a Pilbara mine.
The company’s oversight caused a death at BHP Billiton’s Mt.Whaleback site.
Wayne Moore died in early 2009 when he plummeted 12m from an unsafely secured sheet of grid mesh on a machine. It is undisclosed how much Moore earned, but the typical tradesmen in his sector often earned over $150,000 annually and senior workers often received over $250,000.
The court imposed the highest penalty under the old OHS safety regime when safety watchdog Comcare pursued a successful prosecution. Later, the maximum penalty under the national system rose to $1.5 million for the same type of offense and $3m for more significant breaches. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union commented that the case displayed the inadequacies of penalties in the region.
State Secretary Mick Buchan stated that nominal fines sent a problematic message to employees since many in the sector earned the same around the same amount as the fine.
A middle-aged construction worker has died after falling approximately three metres from scaffolding. According to the Police, the Green Valley worker fell at the Sydney building site on the corner of Pitt Street and Campbell street. He died upon the arrival of emergency services.
Workcover and CFMEU State Secretary, Brian Parker said that an investigation has already commenced.
Brian Parker said the accident affected him on a personal level because he knew the worker who died in the accident. Parker has extended his condolences to the family. Work on the site has been halted until a full investigation into the accident has been completed. The ambulance workers were not able to say whether the worker had a heart attack prior to the Working at Heights accident.
Recently the Australian crane safety watchdog, CraneSafe celebrated its 10th year in existence. The program emerged in Victoria where there was initially an inspection program by WorkSafe. Eventually that was discontinued and CraneSafe emerged to fill the gap and to deal with the upsurge of used cranes coming into Australia.
One cannot overstate the importance of ensuring that safety regulations are met when operating a crane or hoist. Regulatory bodies will inspect whether or not cranes any changes or modifications have been made to the cranes. Constant maintenance and inspection programs should consistently be used. The cranes should be is moderately good condition for use, and ladders and other access points must be safe for consistent maintenance. Furthermore, a sufficient amount of records should be kept pertaining to maintenance, inspection and testing that the machine has undergone. Crane operators are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations bill to ensure that good records are kept. This can ensure that Working At Heights safety standards are being met and that duties are complied with. It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the work site to ensure that these measures are undertaken.
Moving exceptionally heavy, large loads is essential to manufacturing and construction industries. Now there are significant safety standards that one must ensure in order to avoid any hazards.
It is important to note that there are a variety of types of cranes and all of them have specific safety measures one must undertake. Two of these types include (but not limited to) mobile cranes and Tower cranes.
Mobile cranes are mounted onto rubber tires which enable them to be transported throughout various job sites. Some designs have tracks which are similar to those found on tanks. These tracks enable the crane to be mobile. In fact mobile cranes can even move while holding a load, as opposed to other cranes which must remain stationary. Mobile cranes can be transported via helicopters, truck beds or even boats for use at sea.
Often used for the construction of high-rise buildings. This crane is strictly stationary since it has a bolted on base connected to concrete pads.
A serious risk of operating a crane is when the crane overturns. Overturned cranes can be fatal or at the very least, cause serious injury to the operator. There are several causes for the overturning of a crane. This can occur when a crane is overloaded, if it is not on a stable surface, and if the load is not properly rigged. Extreme Wind can also be a catalyst for an overturned crane
Another serious risk is electrocution. The frequency in which an operator works in close proximity to power lines can prove fatal. Insulated barriers are an important step to avoid electrocution. Operators must always ensure that there crane is in a safe distance from electricity sources or high voltage lines.
WORKSAFE shut down Mount Stanley fire tower following an inspection that revealed safety issues with an access ladder. The Department of Sustainability and Environment appealed the decision, citing that there wasn’t an immediate risk.
WorkSafe Spokesman Michael Birt said spotters were at risk of potentially falling from a high section of the ladder connected to the cabin which was located 15 metres off the ground.
The Australian Worker’ Union heeded fire spotters’ safety concerns about the ladder , radiation from TV and radio transmitters nearby and asbestos found in the cabin floor workplace watchdog earlier this month.
WorkSafe issued a prohibition notice on the upper section of the ladder in January,following an inspection. The Department of Sustainability appealed the notice citing that reasons for prohibition did not provide adequate jusitification.
Birt said that the inspector felt that there was an immediate risk to the health and safety of employees.WorkSafe stated that the problems exist in the last section of a steel ladder with a cage at an angle of about 75 to 80 degrees.
Birt said that the handrails were unusable because of the steepness which obligated the person to hold onto the steps in order to climb up. A request has been made to install additional guarding.
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No Christmas greetings will be displayed throughout Rockhampton’s main streets because of workplace health and safety concerns with working at heights. Councils have been informed that the usual season’s greetings banners are no longer permitted to be hung from light poles. Because of the recent strict controls and the risk of significant insurance claims, the banners are no longer acceptable.
Banners will also be prohibited from being hung on the Bruce Highway—the northern and southern entry points into the city.Michael Rowe, acting general manager of community services, claims that the problem has arisen from stricter guidelines by Transport and Main Roads.
Despite no incidents in the past over the injury of staff while erecting or dismantling banners, it is now considered a liability as it is no longer a safe bet.Corporate event organisers will also be prohibited from setting up banners.Councillors have been informed that the lack of highway banners will be compensated for by an increase in Christmas decorations at other locations.
Small festival banners will exist on East St, Quay St and along the Riverside Boardwalk and lights will hang on Morgan’s main street, Keppel Sands, on the council offices in Gracemere, at Queens Park, and various other locations.
Amidst concerns regarding safety practices, things were expected to take a turn at the Cotter Damn enlargement project. A worker who has exposed issues at the worksite allegedly faces potential disciplinary action from his employer.
WorkSafe ensured that the use of a tower crane has been discontinued. The reason for the crane being labeled as ‘unsafe’ has yet to be revealed, however it’s manufacturer has produced a written confirmation of its present condition which means that it may soon be determined that it is safe to use.
The project, which reportedly costs over $360 million has been plagued by a trend of occupational health and safety issues.
Three months ago, work was delayed when anxieties arose pertaining to temporary structures that were organised alongside a wall of the dam.
Other safety issues cited by WorkSafe include unsafe use of electrical power, electrical coolant, scaffolding, formwork and the failure to use proper safety harnesses.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy representatives have expressed outrage over a veteran crane operator potentially facing punishment for blowing the whistle on the site. The operator has since received two official warnings but he may face additional penalties. Despite the disciplinary action the worker has been forced to endure, a spokeperson for the company stated that all employees are encouraged to report safety concerns.
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Over a hundred employees of Thiess Degremont were sent home with pay, after the crack was detected in the pumping station.The crack was found to be located in the weld on a tower crane. Workers were sent home since there weren’t any other activities that they could accomplish while the crack existed.
Claims of mismanagement against Thiess Degremont have been blamed for the crack. Workers have claimed that they have waited three weeks for tools to be delivered when they could have simply bought them locally.
Because of the crack, a job that would normally take 10 minutes will now take two days while parts are delivered.
Unions have indicated that other incidents of mismanagement have caused three month delays.. Meanwhile, the company has fired 160 workers for low productivity.
The company has denied that mismanagement is the reason for lack of productivity.
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The two workers are being prosecuted for failing to take reasonable caution for their health and safety while working at heights. One worker was found to be planking on top of a platform four metres off the ground while the other worker was planking on the tines of a forklift that was was situated approximately two metres from the ground.
Planking is the viral phenomenon that involves people lying down fully stretched horizontally, in dangerous and unusual places.Between 2006 and 2011, WorkSafe insurance payments have been given out to 7018 workers who ‘fell from heights”.Costs and treatments for these accidents exceed over $200 million.The reprimand for this recent incident will be decided in court this week.
The manager of a storage company has been fined $2500 after a working at heights injury. The manager, Craig Robert Lee pleaded guilty for failing to prevent adverse effects on an employee’s safety which resulted in serious injury.
Although there was a sign cautioning “No Entry Unsafe Surface”, Lee ordered a worker to go through the area and unscrew a mesh panel.Shortly after, another worker was walking on the unscrewed mesh panel when it buckled and the worker fell almost 3 meters.The worker suffered from a fractured spine, a fractured pelvis as well as other internal injuries.
WorkSafe Commissioner Lex McCullock stated that falls were one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities. 15 workers in West Australia died from falling in the last four years.
Hitachi Plant Technologies, a scaffolding company , has been ordered to pay a fine of $2000 for not abiding by a WorkSafe improvement notice regarding a working at heights risk. The company had previously signed a compliance slip, which they did not honour.
The company has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was subsequently fined.
In March, WorkSafe inspectors noticed that there was solid guard rails at the ladders which created the risk of workers having to climb over the rails to access the scaffold. Thus the rails created enhanced the potential risks of falling from heights. WorkSafe subsequently gave them an improvement notice and two weeks later, the company signed a compliance agreement indicating that changes had been made.
In the week following, inspectors once again arrived at the site to see solid guard rails at the ladders.
The event indicated that the company continued to disregard WorkSafe’s recommendations and duties to ensure the safety of workers. The WorkSafe WA Commissioner said that the events that took place are a reminder that notices must be ignored and action will be taken when they are .