Inspectors tackle worksite fall risks in statewide safety blitz

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

Victoria’s WorkSafe inspectors are surprising tradies across the state in a safety blitz tackling the growing numbers of fall injuries around the worksite. 

The blitz is tackling incomplete, shoddy scaffolding, inappropriate ladder use and locking down dodgy steps, stairs and empty voids that could leave workers clocking off early in the backseat of an ambulance. 

The safety crackdown comes after nine Victorian workers tragically died from falling from heights in 2023, including four in the construction industry. The number of claims from construction workers injured in falls has also shot up in recent years to 441 – up from 421 in 2022 and 404 the year before.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said inspectors would be out in force with an extra emphasis on ensuring employers are doing everything they can to prevent falls.

“As a leading cause of injury in the construction industry, falls from height is always a priority for our inspectors – but they will be making this a particular focus as they visit building sites over the coming weeks,” Dr Beer said.

“The safest way to prevent falls is to work on the ground. Where that’s not possible, employers should use the highest level of safety protection possible, such as complete scaffolding, guard railing and void covers.”

Construction remains the highest-risk industry for falls from heights, making up a third of the 1,352 total falls from height claims accepted last year.

Of the construction workers injured, 160 fell from ladders, 46 from steps and stairways, 31 from buildings or structures, 27 from scaffolding, and 13 from openings in floors, walls or ceilings.

Dr Beer said WorkSafe can and will take action against employers who fail to ensure the highest level of risk control measures are in place to protect workers from falls.

Only last week, inspectors ordered D Buck Roofing company to pay a fine of $40,000 without conviction after a worker fell over 4 metres through a gap in safety mesh while working on a building extension.

The worker required 15 surgeries after suffering a broken fibula and tibula in his right leg and shattering his left heel bone.

“A fall can happen in just seconds and it can turn your world upside down – so there’s no excuse for taking shortcuts when working at heights,” said Dr Beer.

The statewide blitz will be supported by falls prevention messaging plastered across social media, reminding employers and workers that falls can be fatal or cause life-changing injuries.

To prevent falls from height, employers should…

  • Eliminate the risk if possible. Think about if you could be doing all or some of the work on the ground or on a solid base..
  • Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety net, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
Share This Article
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.