One of the most common hazards on a construction site is work from heights which is why its’ not surprising that falls from heights are the most common cause of injury and fatalities on work sites.
The latest fall victim, a 30 year old worker on a Barangaroo construction site in central Sydney has lost his life after plummeting 30 meters from a scaffold.
The man, believed to be an employee of construction firm Lend Lease, was working as a general labourer and engaging in work from a scaffold when he fell. It is not known whether the proper fall protection was in place.
Co-workers attempted to revive the man but unfortunately, he was pronounced dead shortly after emergency rescue personnel were called to the Hickson Road scene around 8:30am.
The Ambulance Service of NSW says the man’s colleagues performed CPR until they arrived and work on the site had stopped following the incident.
There are counsellors on the site to offer support to workers following the traumatic incident. Hundreds of workers were sent home, many of them shaken by the incident.
WorkCover NSW investigators were also at the scene investigating together with NSW police. John Watson from WorkCover’s work health and safety division said it appeared that the man was doing general construction work at the time.
Acting NSW Premier Andrew Stoner has issued the following statement about the death.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of a worker at the Barangaroo site in Sydney this morning,” Mr Stoner said.
“Our sympathies are with the worker’s family, friends and colleagues.”
This incident highlights the importance of ensuring that all workers are trained on safe work from heights and if necessary provided with additionally training to work on scaffolds which present some unique hazards.
In this case the unions condemned Lend Lease for failing to provide the worker with adequate supervision and training. An allegation that the company has refuted but other employers should ensure that they don’t neglect WHS issues.
The major risk in scaffolding work is the possibility of an external fall from any of the open ends of the scaffold. It is important that all the risks are identified and assessed. It is also important that the necessary control measures are implemented, if the hazard cannot be completed eliminated or minimised.
General construction industry induction training, which is mandatory for all workers on construction sites does cover work from heights in general – another reason why every worker should undergo this training.
The training also known as the White Card will help workers learn to operate more safely on a building site, to protect their own health and wellbeing as well as to keep them from becoming a danger to others on site.
While the White Card course does cover hazards associated with work from heights, it is also important employers provide all workers with additional site specific safety training which is more in depth and addresses the hazards and control measures specific to the site.