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  • 21 Sep 2020 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    On the spot fines of up to $3,600 for businesses and $720 for individuals apply for putting workers lives at risk when working at heights.

    So far this year there have been 3 fatal and 25 serious falls reported to SafeWork NSW in the construction industry alone, 8 of which were falls through fragile or brittle roofs including skylights.



    SafeWork inspectors continue to see unacceptable compliance levels when it comes to working at heights on construction sites, with Sydney sites being the worst offenders.

    During the blitz, inspectors will focus on work near voids and edges, and on roofs. Inspectors will take a zero-tolerance approach to those putting workers lives at risk when it comes to working at heights.

    What you can do:

    Here are some things you can do to protect workers:

    • Eliminate the need to work from heights where possible
    • Assess roofs for fragile and brittle materials and ensure controls are in place to prevent persons falling through the roof
    • Provide adequate edge protection by using jump screens, scaffolding or guardrails - ensuring ALL components are in place
    • Securely cover and visibly mark, or edge protect, all open voids/penetrations in formwork or concrete slabs
    • Ensure scaffolds are installed, regularly inspected and maintained by a competent person, and that a handover certificate is provided prior to use
    • Use a suitable working platform such as scaffolding, boom lifts or scissor lifts
    • Provide workers with safe means of access and egress to work areas
    • Only use fall restraint or fall arrest systems when edge protection or work platforms are not reasonably practicable
    • Many falls take place when people are using ladders. You should consider whether an elevating work platform or scaffolding would be safer and more efficient.

    For practical tips on how to work safely at heights in construction, SafeWork has developed a simple checklist for principal contractors and site supervisors. 

    results from last years’ blitz

    For more information see the SafeWork NSW website working at heights web page, or call 13 10 50.


  • 18 Sep 2020 11:51 AM | Anonymous

    WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a worker slipped off a roof and fell through the guardrail system on a catch platform at a housing construction site.

    A young worker has been critically injured from a fall that occurred while he was performing metal roof installation works on a double-storey house under construction.

    The worker slipped, then slid down the metal roof sheeting off the roof, through the guard rails that were on the perimeter scaffold, and fell approximately 6 metres to the ground.

    Falls are a leading cause of serious and fatal incidents in construction. In recent months, the Victorian construction industry has seen a number of serious and fatal fall incidents where risk control measures are not in place or not adequately controlling the risk of a fall.

    In the housing construction sector, scaffolds and proprietary catch platform systems are often set up before the high-risk construction work commences and are in place for the duration of the works.

    The alert suggested a number of recommended ways to control risks.

    Where the roof pitch is no greater than 26 degrees, the catch platform should be positioned as close to the underside of the roof as possible, and never more than 1 metre below the roof edge.

    Where the roof pitch is greater than 26 degrees or roofing materials are slippery (regardless of roof pitch), the catch platform should be positioned as close to the underside of the roof as possible, and never more than 300mm below the roof edge.

    Where the slope of a roof exceeds 35 degrees, the roof is an inappropriate surface to stand on even with guard-railing or a catch platform.

    A summary of catch platform positioning requirements is below:

    • Roof pitch 26 degrees or less: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 1 metre below.
    • Roof pitch greater than 26 degrees: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 300mm below.
    • Slippery roofing materials, regardless of pitch: As close as feasible to the underside of the roof and not exceeding 300mm below.

    Construction work involving a risk of a fall from more than 2 metres is high-risk construction work, and the alert said an employer or self-employed person must prepare an SWMS for high-risk construction work before the work commences.

    The work must be performed in accordance with the SWMS, and if the high-risk construction work changes or if there is an indication that control measures are not adequately controlling the risks, the SWMS must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised.

    This article is by the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.

  • 18 Sep 2020 11:34 AM | Anonymous
    The FIA would like to hear from members and non-members in the Formwork Industry that have been affected by late payments. We are compiling some research to take to government relating to the security of payments laws and support our industry. Get in touch.


    NSW construction workers and subcontractors are being ripped off at record rates as greedy builders and developers use the pandemic as an excuse to withhold payments for work already done, warns the CFMEU NSW.

    "NSW subcontractors and workers are owed millions in late payments from dodgy developers while the government and the industry refuses to act," said Darren Greenfield, CFMEU NSW Construction Secretary.

    "In recent weeks I have spoken to subcontractors whose businesses are being devastated and the jobs of workers put at risk because they are owed massive amounts by big name builders and developers who simply refuse to pay on time."

    "It is a chronic issue in the industry that has been growing worse for years and which is now a significant risk to the viability of many smaller operators who do the bulk of the work and employ most of the workers."

    "Payment disputes in the NSW construction industry have almost doubled in the June quarter, with figures reported today showing claims for adjudication jumped from $114 million to $225 million over that time."

    "Both state and federal governments are sitting on recommendations from multiple reports to fix the problem by enacting security of payment laws that would stop builders and developers using money owed to subcontractors and workers to boost their own cashflows."

    "Payments are being withheld for months and even years and subcontractors who employ the workers who do the work face going to the wall while being forced to underwrite the profits of some of the biggest builders and developers in the industry."

    "The State Government has been sitting on recommendations to fix the problem since 2012. They need to start protecting small business operators and the workers who build this state and stop listening to the NSW Master Builders and their donor mates in the property industry who oppose these changes."

    "The Federal Government needs to enact the recommendations of the 2017 Murray Review into security of payments, particularly around implementing statutory trusts, to protect workers and smaller industry operators from big property developer bullies.”

    “Nationally, the MBA are blocking the implementation of statutory trusts and urgently needed reforms to security of payment laws as they are supporting the interests of big property developers and builders over the subbies and workers who do the vast majority of the work in the industry.”

    Original Article

  • 17 Sep 2020 11:49 AM | Anonymous

    Queensland’s independent work health and safety prosecutor, Aaron Guilfoyle, has commenced the first prosecution for industrial manslaughter against an individual since the offence was enacted in Queensland in 2017.

    Guilfoyle has charged Jeffrey Owen – who owns a Gympie business which sells and services electric motors – with one offence under s.34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

    It is alleged that Owens negligently caused the death of a worker in July last year at his business premises.

    The maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter is 20 years imprisonment.

    A second party, a company, has also been charged with an offence under the Act arising from the same incident.

    The charges against Mr Owen will be mentioned in the Gympie Magistrates Court on Thursday 1 October 2020.

    The prosecution comes on the heels of Australia’s first conviction and sentence for industrial manslaughter which was recently handed down in the Brisbane District Court.

    The Court issued a $3 million fine and suspended jail sentences to two company directors over an incident in which a worker was crushed by a forklift.

    The conviction related to an incident in May 2019 at a wrecking yard in Rocklea, Brisbane, in which a worker suffered fatal injuries when a forklift was reversed, crushing him between the forklift and a stationary tilt-tray truck.

    The investigation into the incident by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and Queensland Police revealed that the business had no documented safety systems and that the driver of the forklift was unlicensed.

    The defendant, Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd, had on 3 April 2020 entered a guilty plea to one offence contrary to s34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

    This article is a news item provided by the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.


  • 24 Aug 2020 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    A roofing construction and services company in NSW was recently fined $400,000 after a 20-year-old worker died as a result of injuries sustained following a six-metre fall through a skylight.

    Landmark Roofing Pty Ltd was fined for a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and has the right to appeal the sentence.

    Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said the incident underscores the need to protect young workers.

    “Looking after the most vulnerable in the workplace should be at the heart of any company’s safety plans,” Minister Anderson said.

    “It’s so important that young workers get specific training and appropriate supervision to do their job safely.”

    After a number of serious injuries on sites throughout the state, Minister Anderson said inspectors would be on the ground ensuring those undertaking high-risk work have the right safeguards in place.

    Building and construction sites in Newcastle can expect an unannounced visit from SafeWork NSW inspectors as the workplace safety regulator undertakes high-visibility safety checks across the region.

    Inspectors are focusing on work from heights, electrical safety, falling objects, amenities, work plans and the prevention of respiratory diseases such as silicosis, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

    They will also be checking worksites have appropriate COVID-19 safe practices in place for all workers.

    On-the-spot fines of $3,600 for corporations and $720 for individuals can be issued to businesses who place workers lives at risk through inadequate fall from heights protection, or for those who undertake high risk work without appropriate licences.

    This article is a news item provided by AIHS. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.

  • 24 Aug 2020 12:03 PM | Anonymous

    Two major Queensland construction companies have been fined $150,000 over a ‘glaringly obvious’ oversight that left a subcontractor with spinal injuries.

    Both companies pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to breaching Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011, failing to comply with their health and safety obligations.

    A Brisbane company, and another from the Sunshine Coast, were each fined $75,000, plus costs of $1500.

    The court heard the injury occurred on the Virtuoso unit complex construction site at West End in March 2018.

    The company subcontracted to do flooring had completed a safe work method statement (SWMS) in relation to the installation of the flooring system which was revised by the principal contractor. In a review of the SWMS there was discussion about voids and penetrations, but no debate about a specific garbage chute penetration.

    The SWMS did not have a process to identify the hazard of penetrations or voids.

    There was in fact a void in the level 2 deck for a garbage chute, which was identified by another contractor who covered it with two boards as a control.

    On 7 March, a worker was on level 2, close to the covered penetration when he stepped back onto the boards falling 3 metres to the level below. As a result of the fall, he sustained spinal injuries.

    After the incident, the defendant arranged for formwork to be placed underneath the penetration.

    Magistrate Stephen Courtney said the consequences could have been catastrophic. He said the risk was “glaringly obvious” and he did not accept it was a mere oversight in relation to not including it in the SWMS, saying the swift manner in which it was dealt with post-incident showed how easily it could have been prevented.

    The magistrate indicated the defendant had entered the contract to complete the work, expecting the profit that came along with that work, and knew of the duty it owed, saying the duty of care owed by the defendant could not be ‘contracted out of’ and contracting others does not lessen culpability.

    No convictions were recorded for either company, with the court taking into consideration the pleas of guilty, cooperation, including immediately addressing the shortcoming in relation to their SWMS, demonstration of remorse, and having no prior history of breaching WHS legislation.

    This article is a news item provided by AIHS. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.

  • 24 Aug 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    A residential construction company has been convicted and fined $850,000 after a worker fell to his death on a building site in Melbourne’s north.

    Seascape Constructions Pty Ltd was recently sentenced in the Melbourne County Court following the 2017 death of a carpenter at a two-storey house under construction in Kalkallo.

    The company pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to prepare and conduct work in accordance with a safe work method statement (SWMS).

    Seascape engaged the carpenter and a handyman via the website Gumtree to work at the site, including to lay flooring.

    The court heard the carpenter was lowering a compressed air nail gun by its air hose when he fell from an unprotected edge, landing on a concrete slab about 3.1 metres below.

    The 68-year-old died of head injuries at the scene.

    The court heard the workers were not provided with a SWMS before commencing the high-risk construction work or while performing the work and that no safety procedures or safe working methods were discussed.

    WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen said it was vital that all workers are appropriately trained, equipped and supervised to do their jobs safely.

    “Falls from height are a well-recognised safety hazard and are among the biggest killers of Victorian workers,” Ms Nielsen said.

    “This death is a tragic reminder that WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any employer who fails to do all they can to protect their workers’ health and safety.”

    This article is a news item provided by the AIHS. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.

  • 20 Aug 2020 2:42 PM | Anonymous

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the way people live and work. Australian workplaces of all sizes and across all industries have had to significantly modify their operations to protect their workers and the broader community.

    Until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, there can be no return to business as usual. Workplaces must find a ‘new normal’ and must continue implementing measures to reduce the spread of the virus, respond to the re-emergence of cases and to play their part in preventing health systems from being overwhelmed and preventing unnecessary deaths.

    What is the purpose of this Guide and who is it for?

    This Guide is to assist persons conducting a business or undertaking (e.g. employers) meet their work health and safety (WHS) duties in relation to COVID-19 given the significant risk this disease presents to the health and safety of people at the workplace. Managing WHS risks during the pandemic requires flexibility to respond to changing circumstances and an ability to adapt as more becomes known about the virus and how its transmission can be managed and prevented.

    Safe Work Australia has published a range of general and industry-specific advice, guidance and resources on its website to help create and maintain a safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. This Guide aligns with and complements the existing guidance. It provides practical advice for WHS duty holders about how to work safely during the pandemic. It can be used by any duty holders under the model WHS laws that have a role in managing the risk of COVID-19, including persons conducting a business or undertaking, persons with management or control of the workplace and ‘officers’.

    ACCESS THE GUIDE HERE
  • 20 Aug 2020 10:15 AM | Anonymous

    Dincel sets the benchmark for fire compliance and can assist with P.I. insurance concerns.

    After a series of new large-scale tests in 2019, Dincel has been issued a CodeMark Certificate of Conformity to the 2019 BCA by certification body SAI Global and a product accreditation by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC).

    CODEMARK CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY

    The CodeMark Certificate of Conformity verifies that Dincel is compliant with the 2019 BCA for the following:

    • External and internal load bearing wall applications.
    • Walls with joints or penetrations.
    • Bush fire prone areas (up to and including BAL-FZ).

    The CodeMark scheme was developed by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), and as such CodeMark certificates receive mandatory acceptance under State and Territory building control legislation.

    Download the CodeMark certificate


    BRAC ACCREDITATION

    The BRAC Certificate of Accreditation verifies that Dincel is compliant with the performance requirements CP2 - Spread of fire, and subsequently confirms that Dincel can be used where a non-combustible external wall is required.

    A BRAC Certificate of Accreditation is proof by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee that a product meets performance requirements of the BCA.

    The BRAC is an independent statutory body appointed under Division 4 of Part 12 of the Building Act 1993 - Victoria.

    Download the BRAC certificate

      

  • 20 Aug 2020 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    Safe Work NSW Safety Alert
    STRONG and GUSTY WINDS IN CONSTRUCTION

    You must proactively manage the risks caused by high winds on construction sites, as they can cause death and destruction.

    This safety alert reminds managers, supervisors and workers of the risks associated with high or strong gusting winds in the building and construction industry and the actions required to ensure those risks are eliminated or minimised.

    High or strong gusting winds are often associated with very low-pressure systems, thunderstorms, squalls, willy-willies, mini cyclones and cyclones.


    BACKGROUND

    Recently a building company and its subcontractors were fined a total of $620,000 for breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after a brick wall fell on two men, killing one and injuring another at a building site in Carlingford.

    A bricklaying subcontractor was fined $500,000, the principal contractor was fined $60,000, and another company director, was also fined $60,000 following a prosecution by SafeWork NSW.

    In 2017, the principal contractor was contracted to build a two-storey duplex at a site in Carlingford. The company hired a third party to manage activities on the site who in turn engaged a subcontractor to build a wall to divide the duplexes. The company built a 6.5 metre wall that was subsequently found to have been inadequately braced.

    On August 16, two carpenters were working near the base of the wall. It was a poor weather day with wind speeds of up to 74 km/h recorded.

    The wall fell on top of the pair, pinning them both. One worker was unresponsive and died at the scene, while the other suffered scratch marks to his face and was treated for shock.

    In this case, risk assessments were not completed at this site, nor were temporary supports installed, safe work method statements implemented, or adequate supervision provided to workers.

    All these things put the workers on site at significant risk. The SafeWork NSW codes of practice outlines how to manage construction risks in line with the legislation and all employers are responsible for complying with this guidance.

    If you find yourself working unsupervised on a dangerous building site, stop and report it to SafeWork on 13 10 50 or via the Speak Up Save Lives app.

    Prosecuted parties have the right to appeal their sentences.

    MEASURES FOR CONTROLLING THE RISKS

    Ensure all your workers and others are warned about the dangers of high or strong gusty winds on the construction site.

    Site managers should make adequate preparations to deal with the high winds or strong gusty winds in their workplace:

    • Check weather forecasts and monitor conditions regularly. 
    • For sudden or short-term weather events cease work until high or gusty winds have subsided.
    • Ensure structures under construction such as brick/block walls, partition walls, prefabricated concrete panels are adequately braced or otherwise supported from collapse due to wind loads.
    • Ensure temporary structures such as scaffolds, screens, formwork/falsework, site fencing or similar are adequately designed for wind loading and check they are securely tied to the building or structure. Particular attention is needed if containment sheeting, cladding or signage has been added due to the additional forces on the scaffold. Consult the designer or an engineer if you are unsure. 
    • Cease crane operations when the wind speed exceeds the manufacturers specified limit. The manufacturer may specify different limits depending on the activity. 
    • Do not use indoor rated elevating work platforms outdoors or in partially completed structures where the lack of walls or roofs leaves them exposed to winds. 
    • Do not operate hoisting equipment (personnel or material) in high or gusty winds, refer to manufacturers’ guidelines.
    • Ensure dusts are controlled or minimised in high or gusty winds. 
    • Ensure that tools are packed away and building materials secured to prevent them from becoming airborne. 
    • Wear eye protection to keep dust, debris and other foreign particles from blowing into the eyes. 
    • Where hard hats are a falling object hazard, ensure chin straps are worn.


    FURTHER INFORMATION 

    http://www.bom.gov.au/ 

    https://www.windfinder.com/#11/-34.8228/150.8148 

    https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/hazards-a-z/working-at-heights 

    https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/search?query=masonry+wall 


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