Regulator says residential construction putting lives at risk

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 22 April, 2021 - 16:15
Industry news
National News
South Australia

Six weeks into a SafeWork SA audit campaign focusing on falls, there are a number of key trends emerging across residential construction sites.

Since the campaign commenced in early March, audits conducted by inspectors have resulted in 46 breaches being identified, with 22 prohibition notices and 19 improvement notices associated with managing the risk of falls.

From the notices issued so far, common themes seen include:

  • poor contractor management
  • non-compliant scaffolding
  • unsafe use of ladders
  • open voids, and
  • working on the live edge of a roof without controls.


Falls from heights are preventable and there is no excuse for not having controls and systems in place to prevent them, said SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell.

“Our inspectors observed carpenters walking the top plate with no controls in place,” said Campbell.

While it may seem like a house roof is not very high, he said statistics show that 90 per cent of serious injuries in 2020 were sustained from falls below three metres.

“The residential construction industry engages many contractors and all parties have shared responsibilities to work together for the health and safety of themselves and others,” said Campbell.

“Builders need to understand they have the same duty of care for contractors as their own direct workers and cannot pass the risk down to contractors”.

The SafeWork SA 2020 health and safety snapshot relating to falls from heights identified carpenters as being at most risk when working at height.

To help address this issue SafeWork SA has developed new guidance information on installing prefabricated roof trusses.