Two serious falls prompt warning about working safely at heights

WorkSafe Victoria has issued a warning to employers about working safely at heights following two serious incidents in less than 24hrs.

A man in his 40s suffered life threatening injuries after he fell about 3m from a ladder at a townhouse under construction at Rosebud on Friday morning.

The incident followed the death of a man in his 30s after he fell about 5m into a trench at a housing estate at Wallan on Thursday afternoon.

WorkSafe’s Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety, Michael Coffey, said the two incidents were a tragic reminder that falls can have catastrophic consequences for workers.

“Falls are an all too common occurrence in the construction industry, and employers must do everything they can to protect their workers,” Mr Coffey said.

“That one worker has died and another has been seriously injured in this way is simply unacceptable.”

Mr Coffey said employers had to ensure that the risks of falls on any worksite were controlled. He urged employers to ensure safe systems of work were followed at all times.

“The control measures are well known and readily available, so there is no excuse for not having them in place,” Mr Coffey said.

WorkSafe is investigating both incidents.

According to WorkSafe Victoria, employers should do all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction to eliminate the risk of fall.

Employers can also use:

  • fall prevention devices such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, elevated work platforms or safety mesh,
  • travel-restraint systems, industrial rope-access systems, catch platforms and fall arrest harness systems,
  • suitable equipment for working at height

A step platform with handrails provides a larger, more stable surface than a ladder, WorkSafe Victoria said.

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