Australia, C&L, Cranes & Lifting, News, Safety

Falls from heights blitz produces nearly $1m in fines

Construction workers wearing safety harness and installing scaffolding at high level in the construction site.

SafeWork NSW has issued nearly $1 million in fines at the halfway point of its 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

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Commencing in May 2023, SafeWork Inspectors have visited 1218 worksites resulting in 1499 improvement notices, 727 prohibition notices, and 352 penalty notices, totalling $972,000 in fines for businesses. The blitz has seen Inspectors visit several commercial and residential sites across the state, as well as conducting high visibility checks in manufacturing and warehouse industries in addition to inspections in the transport industry leading up to a busy Christmas period.

According to Head of SafeWork NSW, Trent Curtin, during one worksite visit, a worker was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof, justifying his lack of safety practices that he had been roofing for 30 years without incident, an attitude Curtin labelled “simply unacceptable”.

“Attitudes like this will eventually result in a workplace accident or death,” he said. “SafeWork Inspectors will not hesitate to stop work on site, issue fines and consider prosecution against businesses and individuals disregarding the rules.”

SafeWork NSW’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ campaign followed a rise in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to falls from heights, resulting in 17 people killed between 2018 and 2022. During their fieldwork, SafeWork inspectors noted that 65 per cent of industry is using the “highest form of safety measures” as their first choice.

“While it is encouraging that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures, this means that 35 per cent are not and this needs to change,” said Curtin. “As we pass the halfway point of SafeWork’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ compliance blitz it is important to note that falls from heights is still the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.”

News of the progress made on SafeWork NSW’s blitz follows news from WorkSafe Victoria announcing a two-week falls from heights blitz.

Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app.

More information relating to working from heights can be found via the SafeWork website.


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