Tue 23 Oct 2018

Prevention of Falls in General Construction – Compliance Code Released:

Members are advised that the revised Compliance Code  for the ‘Prevention of Falls in General Construction’ has been released, with an operative date of October 2018. The new Code replaces the older version of the Code, and contains some changes that may impact upon the operations of civil contractors.

The full ‘Prevention of Falls in General Construction’ Code may be found HERE.

It is important to note that the Code should be read in conjunction with the ‘Compliance Code: Excavation’ – as there are some common themes in relation to fall prevention around exposed edges of trenches and excavations. This Code may be found HERE.

It cannot be overemphasised, that when working around excavations and trenches, both the Codes referred above (as well as the High Risk Work requirements of the OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic)) – are entirely relevant to civil contractors, as the critical associated risks involve both the potential for a worker to fall into a trench or excavation, as well as the potential for a worker(s) to be engulfed whilst working within a trench or excavation due to a collapse.

Tragically this year, there have been fatal accidents involving both of these scenarios in Victoria.

SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES to the CODE

A number of substantive changes were made to the Code, after a long period of consultation with key Stakeholders, including the CCF, other Employer Associations, Unions and the Public (the Code was released for Public Comment). The full text of the changes to the Code can be found HERE.

The changes include:

1. Consultation

A greater emphasis on the legal requirement for employers to consult with employees, with various references throughout the codes in ‘breakout boxes’ (this is a common theme throughout most of the revised Compliance Codes released in recent months*, and that have been referenced in previous CCF correspondence to members).

The full list of Codes can be found HERE.

2. Information, Instruction, Training & Supervision

The Code has been amended to clarify the requirements for Information, Instruction, Training & Supervision – and this has been reviewed to carefully reflect the accuracy of the associated legal requirements.

3. Language Framework

The language framework was widely addressed throughout the review process of all the Codes. The resultant definitions were agreed and enshrined by definition. These are…

  • Must – to indicate a legal requirement that has to be complied with.
  • Need(s) to – to indicate a recommended course of action in accordance with duties and obligations under Victoria’s health and safety legislation.
  • Should – to indicate a recommended optional course of action.

4. Trenching and Excavation Work

The Code has been amended to provide more practical guidance on suitable measures to control the risk of falls from 2 meters or less for shallow excavations.

Paragraphs 236 to 238 of the code give this practical guidance. This states…

236: Physical fall prevention measures are also suitable for controlling falls risks associated with shallower excavations, such as those with depths of two meters or less. Other controls for these risks include isolating the area around the excavation to prevent access, by installing warning barriers such as star pickets and parawebbing. Warning barriers are not physical fall protection and will not prevent a fall.

237: Warning barriers need to be highly visible and securely fixed, to ensure they are capable of remaining in place during adverse weather conditions. Star pickets should be fitted with protective caps. They need to be installed at least two meters from the edge of the excavation, or where the depth of the excavation is less than two meters, at a distance that is at least equal distance to the depth. When set at a distance greater than two meters from the edge, two rows of safety tape or a single row of flagging or bunting can be used instead of parawebbing.

238: Physical fall protection measures (such as perimeter fencing or covers) need to be used for excavations in areas accessible to the public. For more information on controlling risks associated with excavations see the Excavation compliance code.

CCF would encourage members to download and familiarise themselves with the new Compliance Codes referred above. If there are any outstanding matters and/or questions, do not hesitate to contact CCF’s help desk any time on (03) 9588 7600.