The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Construction sites on both sides of the NSW/Victorian border were recently targeted as part of a regional crackdown on the construction industry, with a focus on-site housekeeping, height safety, falling objects, electrical, moving plant operations, and silica and asbestos controls.
“We have seen a large increase in activity across residential building work and where businesses are taking on extra work, resources are starting to stretch thin,” said NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson.
“Safety has to come first, and inspectors from both jurisdictions will be visiting sites to make sure corners aren’t being cut, and the right safety measures are in place to protect workers,” said Minister Anderson.
Falls from heights are the number one killer on NSW construction sites with most people who are seriously injured or killed falling from a height of four metres or less.
“Far too often inspectors identify concerns with the way scaffolding is set up and sub-standard protections for those working from heights, so this will be a focus of this blitz. We will also be targeting those working without a high-risk work licence and anybody caught dry cutting stone or concrete on site,” said Minister Anderson, who pointed out the cleanliness of a site can also be a good indicator of safety and work standards.
“A safe site starts with a clean, organised site and we’re seeing an unacceptable drop in standards across the construction industry,” Minister Anderson said.
“Having a well-maintained site is a good indicator of the quality of the work being done. If the site managers won’t remove trip and fire hazards like piles of rubbish from the site, there’s a good chance that building standards will be haphazard as well.”
On-the-spot fines of $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals were issued where breaches of the Act were identified and more serious offences could be prosecuted under the Work Health and Safety Legislation attracting higher fines and even imprisonment.