A construction worker in New Zealand has been killed after falling five and a half metres. The worker suffered fatal injuries including a broken pelvis and facial injuries. The company responsible was ordered to pay over $60,000 in fines but this is little consolation to the family whose husband and father will never be returning home.
Like Oz, the construction industry in New Zealand is one of the most dangerous. The government has a nationwide programme in place to educate to employers and workers about the dangers of work on a construction site, particularly fall hazards. The campaign stresses the need for work from a height to be actively managed so that people are not harmed or killed as a result.
The Ebert construction company was fined $33,750 and ordered to pay $29,000 in reparations.
Read this post from The NZ Herald that explains further:
A construction company has been ordered to pay more than $60,000 in fines and reparations after a worker fell five and half metres suffering a broken pelvis and facial injuries.
The man was working at Silver Fern Farms’ TeAroha freezing works in January last year when he fell through a hole on the first floor in which a service lift was to be installed.
The hole was covered, but the cover was not fixed in place.
The man was working for a subcontractor of Wellington-based Ebert Construction Limited.
Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, Ebert Construction was responsible for ensuring his safety while at work, but did not alert the workforce to the hazard or isolate it by securely fixing the cover or by providing protection around it.
A spokesman for the ministry responsible for workplace health and safety, Murray Thompson, said the accident was completely avoidable.
“It is such a simple and obvious thing to do to warn workers or put adequate protection around the edge of holes like this – failure to do so in this case has significantly and unnecessarily injured a worker.
Similarly to Australia, New Zealand has a problematic issue dealing with the safety of workers engaging in work from heights. And in Australia, falls are the most common cause of injury in the construction industry and accounts for numerous deaths every year.
Any construction projects that involve work from heights require a workplace health and safety plan in order to manage this hazard and others.
The plan should include how to handle hazards to health and safety from working on an elevated position or any place from which a person can fall, that includes, working on scaffolds, roofs or even working near holes.
The best method of protection is to use personal fall protection in conjunction with other fall protection systems. The use of these fall protection systems requires proper training to ensure that workers are using the equipment correctly if it is to reduce the injury caused by falling.
An edge protection system can be made of guard railing to be used on the edge of working platforms, walkways, stairways, ramps and landings and should run parallel to the working surface.
Holes or openings are most commonly covered with wire mesh. This wire mesh area (or whatever the hole is covered with) should not be used as a working platform even if the cover appears sturdy unless absolutely necessary. All covers should be securely fixed around the hole. There should be signs attached to the cover to warn people that there is a hole underneath so that they are more cautious. This is a particularly dangerous hazard as many lives have been lost when workers fell through uncovered holes, such as the worker in New Zealand who fell because the hole covering with not fixed in place. Although holes and their coverings may seem like such a trivial matter when faced with all the other hazards a construction site presents, they are more serious than you would think and the number of deaths they have caused are a testament to this.