Construction sites across NSW are under increasing scrutiny as the numbers of WHS prosecutions rises, with a significant number of workers being injured or killed at sites across the state. SafeWork has confirmed it has recently seen several incidents, including collapsed walls at worksites, balcony falls and an incident involving a crane.
The latest data released by the safety regulator shows that SafeWork NSW launched 100 prosecutions in the last financial year, of which 59 were settled and more than $4.1 million in fines handed down.
For example, a major incident occurred at a 29-storey Meriton construction site in North Sydney in September of 2016, when a crane collapsed at the site, leaving three workers trapped. The workers were attached to a boom when it fell, and all three were injured. The company was fined $390,000 plus more than $40,000 in costs to SafeWork.
In a separate incident, two workers were injured when a brick wall collapsed in August of 2017 during strong winds. The company, NSW Bricklaying was found guilty of breaching the WHS Act, and the subsequent investigation found the supports for the wall inadequate and no exclusion zone in place. They were fined $500,000, alongside two contractors who were each fined $60,000.
Sydney’s much-awaited NorthConnex was the site of “an horrific” workplace incident that occurred in 2017. A worker died after being hit by a pressurised piping system, which caused “fatal crush injuries”. The company was fined $750,000 over the incident after it was revealed that the worker had not had any information, instruction or training over the processes for potential hazards.
WorkSafe has explained that it is committed to taking action against companies that do not follow the required WHS legislation, with ongoing safety blitzes underway across Sydney. They explained that “falls from heights are the leading cause of traumatic injuries and fatalities in the NSW construction industry,” and that they will continue to inspect construction sites and take action using all available measures.