Breakfast and blitz to boost construction safety

This year’s blitz will focus on falls from heights and risks associated with crystalline silica dust, and will run from 27-31 March.

Inspectors will visit worksites on both sides of the border to help local construction employers keep on top of the latest safety advice and regulations, including requirements to identify high risk crystalline silica work and ensure adequate controls are in place.

Since 2018, WorkSafe has accepted 303 injury claims from workers exposed to deadly crystalline silica dust, with 13 reported fatalities. SafeWork NSW has had 268 Silicosis cases since 2018, with 17 reported fatalities.

Falling from heights is another big killer in the construction industry, with 14 fatal falls in Victoria and 16 in NSW since 2018.

Victorian construction workers also accounted for almost a third of workers injured in falls, making up 2046 of the 7044 claims accepted by WorkSafe since 2018.

In NSW, 3929 injury claims were accepted from construction workers who suffered a fall from height from financial years 2016-17 to 2020-21.

WorkSafe Director of Construction and Earth Resources Matt Wielgosz said fatalities and injuries are still resulting from avoidable falls and silica dust exposure.

“We don’t want to wait for another tragedy,” he said. “We want to help you identify and address safety hazards before it’s too late.

“Workplace safety should never be an afterthought.”

SafeWork NSW Regional Director Construction Services Laurence Richey said there are increasing pressures to complete construction work quickly and the potential for shortcuts to be taken, resulting in serious incidents.

“We are currently experiencing the ‘perfect storm’ in the construction industry for risk taking due to project delays, inflation, and skills and materials shortages.

“Visiting SafeWork Inspectors will be paying particular attention to silica dust exposure and work at heights safety, the number one cause of traumatic fatalities in the NSW building and construction industry. They will also be focusing on basics such as site fencing and amenities housekeeping to help keep everyone onsite safe.”

In the lead-up to the blitz, a free trade breakfast for workers and employers will be held, with representatives from WorkSafe and SafeWork available to discuss construction-related hazards impacting workplaces along the border.

Mr Wielgosz said it was an opportunity to hear the latest health and safety advice and for employers to refresh their understanding of their health and safety obligations and review their current safety systems and procedures ahead of the planned visits.

“Come along, grab some breakfast, and ask any questions you have around your health and safety responsibilities at work.”

The breakfast will be held at Dahlsens Albury-Wodonga on Friday 17 March from 7-9am.

/Public Release. View in full here.