SafeWork NSW recently issued a safety alert which stated employers and principal contractors must proactively manage the risks associated with high winds on construction sites, to reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities.
The alert also reminds principal contractors, site supervisors and workers of the risks associated with high or strong gusting winds, which are often associated with very low-pressure systems, thunderstorms, squalls, willy-willies, mini cyclones and cyclones.
Construction sites can have varying levels of risk from strong or gusty winds, depending on the stage of the build, the associated plant and materials on-site and the general environmental conditions of the site.
In recent years, there have been serious incidents involving the collapse of masonry walls and scaffolds reported to SafeWork NSW.
The alert noted walls under construction or demolition can be at risk of collapse in high winds due to the lack of lateral support usually provided by permanent wall returns or other sections of the final structure.
Newly built masonry walls have a reduced mortar strength and can have a line of weakness through damp course membranes.
The alert recommended a number of steps and said site managers must make adequate preparations to deal with high or strong gusty winds in their workplace:
And for masonry and other walls special, the alert highlighted a number of other points:
Do not seek shelter behind walls of incomplete structures during extreme weather events, even if temporary supports are in place