WorkCover urges businesses, workers to stay safe while working at heights

WorkCover reminds businesses and workers to take extreme care while working at heights following a number of serious incidents in the past few months.

WorkCover NSW General Manager John Watson said a worker died and several others seriously injured in separate incidents across NSW.

“Woking from heights is hazardous work and, as these incidents show, a fall can result in serious injury or death,” said Mr Watson.

“Recently we saw a number of falls that could have been avoided, including:

  • A fitter in Wetherill Park suffered serious head injuries when he fell three metres from the boom of a mobile crane he had mounted to conduct repairs.
  • A worker sustained serious damage including fractures to his skull, eye socket, hip, pelvis, elbow and wrist after falling eight metres through a skylight when conducting work on a solar hot water system on the roof of a commercial building in Byron Bay.
  • A labourer/boilermaker died in Newcastle when he fell 10 metres from an elevated work platform while not wearing a harness
  • A bricklayer in Sylvania, in the Sutherland Shire, lost his balance while building a wall and fell more than three metres, sustaining a concussion, fractured spine and broken ribs.
  • A tree lopper in Alstonville, west of Ballina, broke his leg and injured his hand and wrist when he fell after a tree limb struck him;
  • A volunteer in Nimbin, west of Byron Bay fell 1.5 metres from a ladder while helping build a shed, sustaining injuries to his shoulder and skull.


“Under work health and safety laws, workplaces must have safety systems in place to prevent workers falling from heights,” said Mr Watson.

“Businesses must provide workers with information, instruction, training and supervision in risk control procedures.

“Workers are required to follow the procedures set out by the business, which in turn must provide a safe workplace by identifying foreseeable fall hazards and taking action to manage those risks,” he said.

A person conducting a business or undertaking must take adequate measures to ensure protection against the risk of fall by the following hierarchy of controls where reasonably practicable to do so:

  • Carry out the work on the ground or on a solid construction.
  • Provide a fall prevention device such as a secure fence, edge protection, working platforms or covers.
  • Provide a work positioning system (any plant or structure, other than a temporary work platform, that safely holds a worker in a work position).
  • Provide a fall arrest system such as an industrial safety net, a catch platform, or a safety harness system.

More information on working safely with heights can be accessed through the WorkCover NSW website.


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