SafeWork NSW has issued a timely reminder on August 16, 2017 to businesses to ensure workers and the community are safe when working in strong winds after one worker was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents on building sites.
The first incident occurred at Talinda Street, Carlingford when a male worker suffered fatal injuries when a wall collapsed at the site, and the second incident occurred on Thomas Boulton Crescent, Kellyville when a wall fell on a worker, causing serious injuries.
According to SafeWork NSW executive director, Peter Dunphy businesses needed to consider all hazards when working in strong winds so that workers and the community aren’t injured.
“Wet conditions can be a factor in workplace incidents for those working outdoors, particularly scaffolds on construction sites,” Dunphy said.
“High gusts of wind are unpredictable, and cause a range of serious workplace hazards associated with flying objects and an increased risk of structural collapse. Wind speeds are often stronger at heights, so operating cranes or using platforms requires additional caution.”
“Side loads, such as wind or materials leant against a wall under construction, can also cause a wall or scaffolding to collapse” said Dunphy adding that it’s essential businesses conduct a site-specific risk assessment and site controllers talk with workers to ensure adequate planning and preparation is in place so that all hazards are managed.
SafeWork NSW recommendations for working in windy conditions are as follows:
- Ensure freestanding masonry walls are stable and adequately braced
- Establish exclusion zones around incomplete masonry walls in extreme weather
- Wear eye protection to protect eyes from dust and debris
- Examine structures to ensure they will remain standing during strong winds
- Secure objects that can become airborne, including stacks of materials
- When working at heights, ensure adequate fall prevention is in place.
Dunphy suggested builders and developers must secure unattended construction sites.
“There are a number of things builders and developers can do to make their unattended sites safe, including ensuring power is off, clearing debris, blocking access to elevated floors, scaffolding and ladders, and storing plant and equipment, tools, chemicals and dangerous goods securely.”
“They should also empty water drums, cover pits, trenches and pier holes, and erect appropriate signage, including an after-hours contact number,” said Dunphy.
Image sourced by Flickr cc: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre