Wed 01 Jun 2016

Foundations for Safety Members:

You will all have seen the news reports of the tragic fatality that occurred on 31 May at a home in the Geelong suburb of Belmont.

The incident was attended by WorkSafe inspectors and investigators. While WorkSafe’s investigation is in its very early stages, it appears a tradesman was working at the base of a brick fence pillar using a power tool and the brick pillar has fallen onto him.

WorkSafe reminds employers and others of the dangers associated with work in and around freestanding masonry walls and similar structures and provides the following general guidance:

If a masonry structure is unstable or likely to become unstable, a suitable exclusion zone should be established around the structure until rectification works are completed. Temporary bracing should be considered if the structure is incomplete or works may affect stability. Temporary bracing or other stability controls should be designed by a competent person who is experienced in such works eg professional engineer.

To ensure work will not compromise stability, a competent person should be consulted before adding or making changes to or undertaking any structural work on the structure, or before excavating near the structure.

Temporary bracing should:

  • be used where the height of the wall exceeds 10 times the thickness of the wall
  • be provided from a lower height where lightweight masonry is used or the wall is in an area where wind speeds are likely to exceed 30 km/h
  • stabilise the entire length of the wall so it does not fall in either direction
  • not exceed two metres between individual braces
  • include wall support bearers (eg battens or strong-backs) of at least 500mm length
  • be retained until the required elements of the final structure are installed and provide adequate lateral support.

The below WorkSafe publications provide further guidance. Please circulate them widely. 

For more information, please contact OH&S Officer Lucinda Bourke on (03) 9822 0900 or email