Wednesday 05 June 2013

Agencies link for construction safety project

The Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) and WorkCover NSW have begun a joint safety project this week with local construction businesses to raise awareness of the similarities and ease of working on either side of the border.

During the project, inspectors from both safety regulators visit construction sites in both states to explain the similarities between NSW and Victorian health and safety laws, address the perceived impediments to working across the border and ensure health and safety compliance.

A/General Manager of WorkCover NSW’s Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy said the project aimed to increase certainty, reduce the regulatory burden and address some of the challenges construction industry businesses face working along the border.

“Many construction companies are based in one state but undertake work in the other,” Mr Dunphy said.

“This has created confusion about the differences between NSW and Victorian health and safety laws and the perception that they have to comply to a completely different set of safety requirements if the work across the border.

“Regardless of which state you work in, the risks and controls on construction sites are well known, as are the control measures that should be in place.

“Each state has the same or similar requirements for high risk work licences, plant operator competencies and accepts the other states’ safe work method statements and builder’s plans.”

Allan Beacom, the VWA’s Construction Unit manager, said the project aimed to reduce injuries and deaths from unsafe work practices in construction sites in border areas.

“We want to improve the ability of builders and sub-contractors to recognise, manage and control construction hazards and risks on both sides of the border,” Mr Beacom said.

“We also want to encourage better housekeeping practices, safety planning and supervision.

“The aim is to help reduce any perceived red tape issues while ensuring more productive, healthy and safe construction sites.”

During the June visits, inspectors will trial an inspection checklist to ensure a consistent approach to site health and safety. As part of the project WorkCover NSW and the VWA will also hold joint information sessions with construction industry associations.

The construction industry is one of the highest risk industries in Vicotria and NSW. In the five years to 2011-12, 329 construction workers in Victoria’s Northeast have been injured at a cost of more than $8.3 million. In south west NSW, there were 1,209 injuries and illnesses, including 3 fatalities in the three years to 2010/11 at a cost of $14.3 million to the NSW workers compensation system.

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: WorkCover NSW Media Unit: 02 4321 5474 or 0413 186 799 Victorian WorkCover Authority: Peter Flaherty on 0478 881 663

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.