NSW: Safety blitz for North Coast 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.
Saturday, 20 February, 2021 - 12:00
Industry news
New South Wales

SafeWork NSW inspectors recently targeted unsafe working systems across all building trades in a safety blitz of construction sites across the NSW North Coast from Ballina to Tweed Heads.

As part of a regional crackdown on industry, SafeWork inspectors focused on on-site housekeeping, height safety, falling objects, electrical, moving plant operations, and controlling risks related to silica and asbestos.

Inspectors undertook a compliance blitz on construction sites to make sure those most at risk from a workplace injury are protected by safe systems of work, said the department of customer service executive director of compliance & 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 this area in particular.

“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,” Williams said.

Cleanliness of a site can be a good indicator of safety and work standards, said Williams.

“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.”

On-the-spot fines of $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals can be issued to businesses who 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.