SA: inspectors targeting high risk construction work safety

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Friday, 27 August, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news
South Australia

SafeWork SA recently issued a call to builders and contractors to ensure Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are prepared and in place to reduce the risk of injury to workers.

Starting this month, SafeWork SA inspectors will be visiting construction sites across the state to ensure sites are managing high-risk construction work.

SWMS are used to identify the hazards and risks associated with high-risk construction work and list the controls necessary to minimise the risk of injury to workers.

The Safe Work Method Statement 2020 audit report outlined the outcomes and recommendations including follow-up audits to be undertaken in 2021.

During the 2020 audit, 64 statutory notices were issued in response to non-compliance, including 47 improvement notices and 17 prohibition notices.

The largest areas of non-compliance related to a failure to prepare an SWMS before commencing high-risk construction work and a failure to have adequate control measures in place to manage a risk of a person falling more than 3 metres.

These findings resulted in a recent compliance campaign focussing on managing the risk of falls in the residential construction industry, and the 2021 audits will have a greater focus on the civil construction sector.

The construction industry has been identified as a priority in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 with a national target to reduce the number of worker fatalities due to injury by at least 20 per cent. SWMS are one key strategy relied upon to reduce this toll.

During audits, SafeWork SA inspectors will be reviewing compliance against the following five areas:

  1. Identification of high-risk construction work
  2. Compliance of SWMS
  3. The hierarchy of control has been considered for control methods
  4. Supervision
  5. Duties of principal contractors.

SafeWork SA has created a self-assessment checklist for contractors to use to measure compliance with their SWMS.

Principal contractors play a key role in ensuring high-risk construction work is undertaken safely, said SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell.

“Principal contractors must have arrangements in place for the collection, assessment, monitoring and review of contractors’ SWMS,” said Campbell.