NSW: regulator conducts safety crackdown on Sydney construction sites

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.
Friday, 12 March, 2021 - 12:00
Industry news
New South Wales

SafeWork inspectors recently visited construction sites across Sydney as part of a state-wide crackdown targeting onsite housekeeping, height safety, falling objects, electrical, moving plant operations, and controlling risks related to silica and asbestos exposure.

Inspectors undertook a compliance blitz on construction sites to make sure those most at risk from workplace injury are protected by safe systems of work, said NSW Better Regulation Divisions’ Executive Director, Compliance and Dispute Resolution, Tony Williams.

“Far too often our inspectors identify concerns with the way scaffolding is set up and other dangers involving working from heights so we will be targeting these issues in particular,” said Williams.

“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,” said Williams, who added cleanliness of a site can be a good indicator of safety and work standards.

“A safe construction site starts with a clean site and we’re seeing an unacceptable drop in standards across the construction industry,” he said.

“Having a well-maintained site is also 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.”

SafeWork Inspectors work closely with NSW Fair Trading Inspectors and Officers from the NSW Building Commissioner to share information on businesses and tradespeople delivering poor-quality workmanship and or safety practices.

For safety offences, on-the-spot fines of $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals can be issued to businesses which place workers lives at risk through inadequate protection from falls from heights, or for those who undertake high-risk work requiring a licence, or those undertaking high-risk silica practices.