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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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