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VIC: fall from height fatalities and injuries spark safety warning

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.
Date: 
Friday, 13 August, 2021 - 11:30
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a call to employers to manage the risks of working from height after one death and a spike in serious incidents.

A 23-year-old carpenter died in hospital after suffering critical head injuries in a suspected three-metre fall at a Moonee Ponds construction site on 2 August.

The incident follows 11 serious incidents involving falls from height since 24 July, including:

  • A worker who suffered serious injuries after falling about 4.5 metres while removing ceiling panels at a Reservoir factory.
  • An apprentice who fell about six metres from a ladder at a construction site at Oakleigh, suffering broken bones and suspected internal injuries.
  • A worker who sustained serious injuries after falling about 3.5 metres from the roof of a Kensington property while installing solar panels.
  • A worker who suffered chest and facial injuries after falling about three metres from an unloading dock in Thomastown.

Some incidents have also involved children, including a toddler who suffered head injuries after falling from a scissor lift.

Falls from height were preventable yet remained one of the biggest causes of death and serious injuries in Victorian workplaces, said WorkSafe Victoria acting executive director of health and safety Andrew Keen.

“The tragic death of this young carpenter and the many recent incidents highlight the very real risk of falls and the heartbreaking and life-changing consequences,” Keen said.

“We want every workplace to reassess the effectiveness of their fall prevention measures and don’t assume that just because you haven’t had an incident that your business is operating safely.”

Lagondar Nominees Pty Ltd and director Emil Lagondar were recently convicted and fined a combined $375,000 after a worker fell to his death from an unsecured cage elevated by a forklift at a Clayton warehouse in 2019.

In June, painter and decorator Adam Nelson was convicted and fined $40,000 after a sub-contractor was seriously injured after falling through a skylight on a property at Strathmerton in 2018.

In February, roof truss manufacturer Melbourne Truss Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $45,000 for a lack of fall prevention at a Cranbourne North building site in 2018.

To prevent falls from height, WorkSafe Victoria said employers can:

  • Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.