Further fall safety blitz continues with more prosecutions in Victoria

Victoria’s safety watchdog, WorkSafe, is escalating its campaign to prioritise worker safety at heights. With increased fines, active prosecutions, and a statewide construction site blitz focusing specifically on falls, WorkSafe is emphasising the severity of fall hazards and height safety compliance. 

Victoria isn’t the only state undergoing a crackdown when it comes to safety for working at height. SafeWork NSW have recently hit a grim milestone handing out nearly $1 million in fines since the start of their own blitz campaign. 

Read our recent article: One million reasons to prioritise the safety of workers at heights

Construction focus intensifies

WorkSafe is currently conducting a statewide blitz on Victorian building sites targeting falls hazards. Inspectors are scrutinising scaffolds, ladders, and roof work, ensuring employers have implemented the highest level of safety precautions.  This initiative comes in response to concerning 2023 figures: nine Victorians tragically died due to falls from height, with four fatalities occurring in the construction industry. Additionally, accepted claims from construction workers injured in falls from heights saw an increase in 2023.

“As a leading cause of injury in the construction industry, falls from height is always a priority for our inspectors,” said Dr. Narelle Beer, “but they will be making this a particular focus as they visit building sites over the coming weeks.”

Recent incidents

A recent appeal led to a fivefold increase in fines for a roofing company, D Buck Roofing Pty Ltd. The company was originally fined $7,500 for failing to adequately protect a worker from a four-metre fall, but that amount was raised to $40,000 after an appeal.  This decision sends a strong message about the importance of rigorous fall safety measures.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Narelle Beer, underscores the message, highlighting that there are no excuses for ignoring the well-known risk control measures to protect workers from falls. “WorkSafe will always look to exercise its right to appeal a prosecution result where we believe it does not reflect the seriousness of the offending.”

In a separate case, commercial solar photovoltaic installer Electribuild Pty Ltd was fined $9,000 after three apprentice workers were observed on a second-story roof without adequate fall protection. The incident highlights the particular vulnerability of inexperienced workers and the responsibility of employers to ensure their safety.

Protecting workers: A non-negotiable responsibility

WorkSafe reinforces the necessity of prioritising safety with comprehensive information available on its website (https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/fall-prevention). Employers are reminded of their obligation to protect workers by employing an effective hierarchy of controls when working at heights:

  • Eliminate: Perform as much work as possible on the ground.
  • Passive Fall Prevention: Use scaffolds, guardrails, or safety mesh.
  • Positioning system: Utilise travel-restraint systems to keep workers within safe areas.
  • Fall arrest: If a fall is possible, implement harnesses, catch platforms, or safety nets.
  • Ladders and administrative controls: Resort to these only when higher-level measures aren’t feasible.

The safety blitz, increased fines, and recent prosecutions underscore the intensified efforts to prevent workplace injuries and deaths from falls.  It is only through an unwavering stance on height safety compliance that we will make dangerous falls a thing of the past.

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