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More than $900k in fines issued SafeWork blitz falls from height

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Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights. 

The Working at Heights in Construction campaign followed a concerning rise in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to falls from heights, resulting in 17 people killed between 2018 and 2022.  

In fact, it’s the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.  

Since May 2023, SafeWork Inspectors have visited 1,218 worksites resulting in 1,499 Improvement Notices, 727 Prohibition Notices and 352 Penalty Notices amounting to $972,000. 

The blitz has seen inspectors visit several commercial and residential sites across the state, as well as conducting high visibility checks in manufacturing and warehouse industries in addition to inspections in the transport industry leading up to a busy Christmas period.  

During their field work, they gauged that 65% of industry is using the highest form of safety measures as their first choice including the use of fall prevention devices, such as roof guardrails and scaffolding, rather than fall arrest systems such as harnesses. 

“During one worksite blitz a SafeWork Inspector noted a worker who was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof,” Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin said.

“When questioned as to why they were not connected, the worker reasoned that they had been roofing for 30 years without an incident. 

“Attitudes like this will eventually result in a workplace accident or death. This is simply unacceptable. SafeWork Inspectors will not hesitate to stop work on site, issue fines and consider prosecution against businesses and individuals disregarding the rules.”

SafeWork have vowed to continue to prioritise the safety of workers at heights in 2024 with continuing inspections, starting off with a blitz on the safe installation of rooftop solar panels this month. 

Contractors and builders are obligated to protect workers by identifying height risks and taking steps to control these hazards as far as reasonably practical by implementing higher order controls.

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