SafeWork NSW continues investigation into Macquarie Park scaffolding collapse

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.
Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 - 11:30
Industry news
National News

SafeWork NSW is continuing its investigation into a scaffolding collapse in Macquarie Park Sydney on 1 April 2019, in which one person died and another was critically injured.

The site is expected to be closed until SafeWork has concluded that the site is safe and all evidence has been collected.

“The outcomes of this investigation are expected to take some time to gather meaningful and constructive results,” said SafeWork NSW Executive Director Tony Williams.

“SafeWork will examine a range of factors including the qualifications of relevant workers, environmental conditions, the load carried by the scaffolding, as well as the design, construction and maintenance of scaffolding.”

The tradesmen who were killed and injured had been working from the bottom level of scaffolding when the structure suddenly collapsed.

Another two workers were laying bricks at the top of the structure and jumped to safety.

It is not yet known what caused the scaffolding to collapse, however SafeWork NSW said it will employ significant resources to fully understand how the tragedy occurred.

SafeWork is working with NSW Police, who are running a separate investigation, and SafeWork is also preparing a report for the Coroner.

A prohibition notice has been issued to the construction company, preventing access to work on the ground floor and basement levels of the site.

Notices have also been issued to the construction company to ensure the safe release of an inactive crane’s load onsite.

Engineers are assessing whether the structural integrity of the crane, as well as the electrical supply to it, have not been affected by the collapse of the scaffolding.

SafeWork NSW is currently running “Operation Scaf Safe” which commenced on Monday 1 April 2019.

It is one focus of SafeWork’s “towards zero falls from heights campaign” which will run until 2022, and SafeWork inspectors are visiting sites across NSW to ensure that businesses understand the safety requirements involved in creating a safe environment for workers using scaffolding and working from a height.

The decision to focus efforts on scaffold safety was in part the result of a compliance blitz conducted throughout 2018, where almost 50 per cent of scaffolding inspections were found to be non-compliant. 1,258 notices were issued, including 93 risk-of-falls related, on-the-spot fines, totalling $265,680.

Operation Scaf Safe is expected to run until September 2019, and penalties of up to $3600 may apply for exposing workers to risk of falls, or for carrying out scaffold work without a licence.