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$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

SafeWork NSW 2 mins read

16 February 2024 

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.  

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, Inspectors gauged that 65 per cent 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. 

SafeWork will 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.  

Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app.  

More information relating to working from heights can be found via the SafeWork website. 

Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin:  

“As we pass the halfway point of SafeWork’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ compliance blitz it is important to note that falls from heights is still the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.  

“While it is encouraging that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures, this means that 35 per cent are not and this needs to change. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of workplace accidents as well as fines and prosecution. 

“During one worksite blitz a SafeWork Inspector noted a worker who was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof. 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.” 

MEDIA: media@customerservice.nsw.gov.au | 0438 108 797 

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