26 September 2023

SafeWork crosses border for safety blitz

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SafeWork NSW is teaming up with its Victorian counterpart for a construction safety blitz to support border communities.

Regional Director for Construction Services at SafeWork NSW, Laurence Richey said the operation with WorkSafe Victoria would see the two authorities join forces during a week-long safety blitz targeting residential construction sites in Mildura (Victoria) and Buronga (NSW) from 22 to 26 August.

Mr Richey said falls from heights remained a significant safety risk in the construction industry on both sides of the border and was the number one killer on NSW construction sites.

“There have been 1,126 reports of workers falling from a height in NSW since the beginning of 2021,” Mr Richey said.

“Forty-six per cent of these claims have been attributed to falls from ladders or scaffolding, which is of great concern,” he said.

“During their visits, inspectors will be paying particular attention to the basics such as site fencing, amenities, housekeeping, and work at heights to ensure safety.

Executive Director of Health and Safety at WorkSafe, Narelle Beer said the joint operation would also raise awareness about the risks of exposure to hazardous crystalline silica dust which, if inhaled, could cause deadly lung and respiratory diseases such as silicosis.

“While many in the industry would be aware of the risks when working with engineered stone, fewer would know that unsafe cutting or crushing of products such as ceramic tiles, concrete, bricks and marble can also expose workers to dangerous crystalline silica dust,” Dr Beer said.

“Silicosis can have heartbreaking consequences for young workers and their families – that’s why we’re reminding employers and tradies of the steps they must take to ensure a safe workplace, no matter which side of the border they’re working on,” she said.

“Since the start of 2021, WorkSafe has accepted 88 claims from workers who have developed silica-related disease and sadly six workers have died.”

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