Incident alert issued after multiple falls in Queensland

Date: 
Thursday, 18 June, 2020 - 17:15
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Queensland

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently issued an incident alert following a number of falls which left workers with a range of injuries.

In December 2019, a worker suffered serious injury after falling approximately 5 metres through a roof whilst doing maintenance on a shed.

In a similar incident in February 2020, a man died after falling through the roof of a building. Early investigations indicate he was repairing a skylight.

There was a third falls related incident in March. On this occasion, a worker suffered serious injury after falling approximately 5 metres.

Investigations indicate the man was doing repairs when he fell through a section of the roof to the ground below.

Falls are a major cause of death and serious injury at workplaces, according to the safety alert, which said the risk of falling is common for many work activities.

The risk of serious injury from a fall depends mainly on the height and surface below, and there may also be an additional risk when working on or near fragile roof surfaces.

Between July 2014 and June 2019, the alert said an average of 160 workers’ compensation claims relating to falls from or through a building or structure were accepted annually.

From July 2014 to January 2020, WHSQ was notified of 173 events involving a fall from a roof or through a ceiling. In the same period, WHSQ issued 1,247 statutory notices relating to either an incident or managing the risk of falling from a roof or through a ceiling.

In 2017, a business was fined $75,000 and a sub-contractor $30,000 after a young apprentice fell almost 4m from a roof while trying to retrieve a circular saw, which was in danger of falling.

The apprentice struck a concrete wall before landing on the ground sustaining concussion, cuts and abrasions, and a scalp laceration.

There was no edge protection or fall prevention control, no site induction, and the apprentice didn’t receive any work at heights training.

In 2015, a business was fined $52,000 after an apprentice fell 9.2m through an unprotected skylight (made up of four smaller skylights) sustaining serious injuries, including a fractured eye socket, a fractured vertebra and a compressed spinal disc.

The skylight had been identified as a hazard, but no measures were used to isolate or guard the work area around it.