NSW/VIC cross-border blitz targets construction safety

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.
Sunday, 10 April, 2022 - 12:45
Industry news
New South Wales

SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria recently visited 52 construction sites in Albury and Wodonga as part of a week-long blitz to reduce the risk of falls and other safety issues.

Across both sides of the border, common issues advised included falls and electric shock risks, site security, Safe Work Method Statements and trip and slip hazards.

WorkSafe inspectors identified six safety issues that were able to be addressed on the spot and issued eight improvement notices. While SafeWork inspectors issued nine improvement notices and two prohibition notices for working at height.

WorkSafe Victoria director of construction and earth resources Matt Wielgosz said the joint agency visits were a proactive way to help local construction businesses comply with workplace health and safety requirements.

“Together with SafeWork, WorkSafe inspectors will continue to work with local construction workers and employers to help duty holders understand their obligations, regardless of which side of the border they’re working on,” Wielgosz said.

“We’re also getting the safety message out to young tradies through presentations at local TAFEs, as we know that young workers can be more vulnerable and less likely to speak up about safety concerns.”

Representatives from WorkSafe spoke with 225 TAFE students to highlight safe work practices to young workers including plumbing, carpentry, electrical, engineering, building and women in trades groups.

SafeWork NSW director of construction services regional Laurence Richey said it is evident from the blitz that noncompliance around working at heights remains an issue on construction sites.

“Sadly, falls from heights, in particular falls under four metres, is the number one killer in the construction industry,” Richey said.

“Ladders not being fit for use and scaffolding which has been altered and not regularly inspected are attributable to a number of falls-related incidents and an area we will continue to address.”

The operation was part of the ongoing cross border construction program, which aims to raise the profile of workplace health and safety issues in regional centres along the Victoria-NSW border.