As it gears up for its construction site safety blitz, WorkSafe Victoria has warned the civil construction industry to watch for causes of slips and falls.
Minor injuries caused by smaller injuries such as slips and falls are burdening the state’s Workcover insurer with millions in injury claims each year.
WorkSafe claims it has paid $30 million over the three years to July 2009 in workers compensation claims for the sub-sector.
“Each year many hundreds of plant operators slip and fall while getting onto or off mobile plant, often resulting in injury,” said WorkSafe’s Construction and Utilities Director, Chris Webb.
Civil construction injuries accounted for 900 claims last year, according to the regulator; typically the injuries have occurred at large infrastructure projects.
“They may not be high-profile injuries that result in deaths or are life-threatening, but in many cases, the difference between an operator suffering just a sprain or rupturing a tendon or breaking a bone is just luck, and luck eventually runs out,” said Webb.
WorkSafe flagged in February that it would commence a general construction blitz because too many accidents were occurring "due to poor supervision".
This month WorkSafe inspectors will zero in on civil construction sites, paying special attention to how workers get on and off mobile plant equipment, noise risks and workers manually lifting heavy objects.
“Civil contractors need to proactively address safety at their sites and ensure they are controlling not just these, but all risks, as inspectors will take appropriate compliance action if they identify safety issues,” said Webb.
Webb also warned that contractors could be liable for 10 days pay for their subcontractors and up to $582 in workers’ medical expenses. It has issued nine tips for what it will look for at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/construction, with the top warning for workers not to jump down from machinery, “even from low heights”.