• FINES INTRODUCED FROM 1 NOVEMBER 2017 TO PROTECT WORKERS FROM THE RISK OF FALLS

    Members are advised that from 1 November 2017, SafeWork NSW has introduced “on the spot” fines in an effort to reduce worker fatalities and serious injuries when:

    • Employers or workers do not control the risks associated with working from heights
    • Workers undertake licenced work when they don’t hold that licence, or employers who allow their workers to do so. This includes asbestos and demolition licences, and high risk work licences such as cranes, hoists, dogging, rigging, and EWPs to name a few.

    Workers compensation data shows there were 12,136 claims relating to falls from heights between 2013/14 and 2015/16, representing a total cost of $327 million and total lost work time of 126,945 weeks. This significantly impacts workers, their families and the NSW economy.

    Under amendments to the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation gazetted 29 October 2017, SafeWork NSW inspectors will be able to issue penalty notices of $3600 to corporations and $720 to individuals for breaches relating to falls from heights. The new on the spot fines can be issued by Inspectors if the risk to workers is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is a repeat offender. 

    Falls from Heights

    This year alone, SafeWork NSW has attended 279 incidents involving falls from heights, with eight workers killed and many more receiving catastrophic injuries.

    It is important to properly assess the risks involved for each activity that includes the need to work at heights, and ensure that you have implemented the highest level of control that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.  Additionally, construction work that involves the risk of a person falling more than two metres requires a Safe Work Method Statement, as this is considered High Risk Construction Work (HRCW).

    What you can do:

    • Eliminate the need to work from heights where possible
    • Use a suitable working platform such as scaffolding, boom lifts or scissor lifts
    • Provide adequate edge protection by using jump screens, scaffolding or guardrails - ensuring ALL components are in place
    • Ensure scaffolds are installed and inspected by a competent person, and that a handover certificate is provided prior to use, and every 30 days thereafter
    • Securely cover and visibly mark, or edge protect, all open penetrations in formwork or concrete slabs
    • 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.

    Licensing

    New fines have also been gazetted 29 October 2017 for individuals who carry out asbestos removal or prescribed high-risk work without a licence.

    Licences are required for certain types of work that are considered high risk. In most cases, workers must be trained and assessed as competent before they are issued with a licence to undertake that work.

    What you can do:

    • Check your workers licences and never let an unlicensed worker do work requiring a licence
    • Keep a register of when licences are due to expire, and make sure they are renewed
    • Undertake refresher training regularly
    • Ensure you hold the appropriate licence to do the work you are doing
    • Ensure the removal of friable asbestos or more than 10 square metres of non-friable (bonded) asbestos is undertaken by a licenced asbestos removalist with the relevant class of licence. See the SafeWork website for a list of licenced removalists and assessors.
    • Talk to your workers about how to work safely when undertaking any type of high risk or licenced work.

    For more information relating to the new fines, visit SafeWork’s website for Penalty Notices.

    Further Information

    Should members have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact the Association’s Safety Department Sydney Office on 02 8586 3555.

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