Two workers injured due to inadequate or no use of fall prevention

Background

Two Territory workers have been injured within the last three months due to inadequate or not using fall prevention while working at heights.

Incident one: a worker at a Darwin construction site fractured his ankle after falling three metres when the perimeter guardrails he lent on gave way. The clamps securing the guardrails to the roof had been specifically manufactured to fit the roof trusses of the building under construction, but had not deemed fit for purpose by a competent person such as an engineer.

Incident two: a worker fell approximately five metres from the sloped roof of a work shed in the Darwin Rural Area, suffering serious injuries. No fall prevention was used at the time of the incident.

This is a composite image from both incident scenes. The left image shows how the clamp was secured on the roof truss. The right image is security foots that capturing the worker falling from the roof.

Industry seems to be ignoring the risk of falls

In addition to the two incidents above, NT WorkSafe Inspectors have issued prohibition notices to a further two worksites in the first week of February for working at heights without appropriate fall prevention.

A worker was observed leaning over a live edge while standing on the seventh floor of a construction site in Alice Springs. Two days later, two workers were observed not using fall prevention while installing the blue vapour barrier on a home in Darwin.

This is a composite image of the building sites that were issued the prohibition notices. The image on the left shows a worker looking over the live edge of the seventh floor of a construction site in Alice Springs. The image on the right shows two workers standing on the roof trusses installing vapour barriers without fall prevention.

Disclaimer

The above information is based on preliminary findings from NT WorkSafe’s initial enquiries. Inquiries are ongoing to determine the cause of the incident and the appropriate regulatory response.

Safety Information

Falls are a major cause of death and serious injury in Australian workplaces. Regardless of the task, if there is a risk of a person falling from one level to another, the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risks associated with the hazard.

NT WorkSafe strongly urges all workplaces undertaking similar activities to ensure the following measures are in place, and that they are effective:

  1. Undertake Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control (HIRAC) beginning by identifying hazards related to risks of falls in the workplace using Managing the risk of falls in the workplace Code of Practice;
  2. Ensure all persons in the workplace have appropriate training and instructions necessary to protect them from risks to their health and safety; associated with working at heights;
  3. Consider available control measures and implement them to eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable, where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. The PCBU must manage the risk of fall in a workplace by providing a safe system of work, which may include one or more of the following:
    1. a fall prevention device; or
    2. if it is not reasonably practicable to provide a fall prevention device, provide a work positioning system; or
    3. if it is not reasonably practicable to comply with either a or b ,provide a fall arrest system, so far as is reasonably practicable; and
    4. ensure the safe system of work selected is deemed fit for purpose by a competent person, such as an engineer or used in accordance to the manufacturers guidelines or relevant Australian Standards.
  4. Discuss the hazards identified, the likely risks and harm it could cause, and seek feedback from your workers on the control measures you have implemented at your next toolbox talk or team meeting;
  5. Follow the Northern Territory’s Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination Code of Practice, and consult your workers and their health and safety representatives when deciding how to manage the risks in the workplace, including when reviewing and making changes to existing processes.

The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 classify a number of activities as ‘high risk construction work’ for which a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) must be prepared before the work starts.

This includes construction work where there is a risk of a person falling more than two metres or works carried out in or near a tunnel, shaft or trench that has a depth greater than 1.5 metres. For further information on developing a SWMS see Appendix E - High risk construction work safe work method statement template of the Construction Work Code of Practice.

Further Information

Contact:
Communications Unit
Phone:
0401 114 569
Email:
ntworksafe@nt.gov.au