News from the Civil Contractors Federation participation in WorkSafe’s Priority Harms Working Group.

During April, the working group regular meeting has reviewed incidents, fatalities and prosecutions for the period October 2023 to February 2024.

In this period there were no fatalities but, 5 serious incidents resulting significant injury were reported.

These incidents included electric shock while working in a pit, an uncontrolled fire (possible arson), worker hit by an excavator, a traffic controller injured during vehicle movement, and a worker pinned when a trailer and excavator support collapsed.

WorkSafe has a current program of proactive site visits to review site safety practices. These visits are across all sectors including the civil subsector. During the period, there were 65 primary visits across 53 sites (59 metro and 6 regional) and 44 employers resulting in 5 Notices and 9 cautions.

WorkSafe will be increasing the number and frequency of proactive site visits and has recruited for 6 new Inspector positions for the purpose.

A strategy of upstream interventions, supplementing site visits has now been put in place. Where on site contraventions have been identified, WorkSafe may choose to investigate the contractor organisational management support systems. During this period 5 upstream interventions were conducted.

One intervention resulted from a failure to control the risk of falling into a trench. The intervention resulted in a stop work order for all subcontractors on site and a requirement to develop a training package for “Falling at Heights” as opposed to “Working at Heights”.

A second intervention resulted from an incident involving mobile plant contacting powerlines. This resulted in review of safety controls, new SWMS, supervision training, traffic management plans, permits and spotters for overhead assets, risk assessments and defining roles and responsibilities.

 The meeting also drew attention to new WorkSafe Guidance material relevant to the Civil subsector. Much of which would be suitable for the development of safety processes and for discussion at toolbox meetings conducted by each contractor. These include:

Preventing Falls from Earthmoving Equipment
Guide to Falls Prevention
Preventing Injuries when loading and unloading vehicles
Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)