WorkSafe Victoria, SafeWork NSW roll out height and asbestos blitz
WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW have teamed up to roll out a construction blitz, targeting the risk of falls from heights and asbestos exposure to help the construction industry in Echuca and Moama.
As part of the Cross Border program, the authorities will inspect construction sites on both sides of the border between 30 October and 3 November 2023 to help ensure employers are aware of their health and safety obligations and are doing all they can to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities.
“Since 2018, there have been 76 fatalities in construction, making it the deadliest industry in Victoria,” WorkSafe director of construction and earth resources Matt Wielgosz says.
“Falling from height is the most common cause of these deaths, so we’re making sure employers are aware of their duties when it comes to fall prevention.”
Construction workers also accounted for almost a third of all workers injured in falls from height, making up 2,351 of the 7,999 claims accepted by WorkSafe since 2018.
Construction work can also involve the redevelopment or demolition of asbestos-contaminated sites. If inhaled, asbestos fibres can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
“Asbestos could be present in many different forms on a construction site, including cement pipes, pits and insulation coatings on pipelines,” Matt says.
Since 2018, WorkSafe prosecutions have seen 17 companies ordered to pay fines and costs totalling $235,520 for asbestos-related health and safety breaches.
SafeWork NSW regional director construction services Laurence Richey says that despite a nationwide ban on the use of asbestos being introduced almost 20 years ago, it is still prevalent on NSW worksites.
“Asbestos-related diseases are preventable, and inspectors will be reminding tradies to exercise extreme caution when working on homes or buildings built before the late 1980s as they may contain asbestos.”
Since 2018, SafeWork has issued a total of 143 fines for asbestos-related incidents totalling $496,642.