Category : Regional - North East

17 Jun 2014

Improving construction safety on the border

Inspectors from Victoria and NSW are visiting building sites in the Albury and Wodonga region this week as part of the Cross Border Project, which aims to alleviate confusion about construction site safety requirements on each side of the border.

Since the project began in June last year, inspectors have already been able to assist more than 150 businesses by clarifying obligations of both employers and workers and similarities of working between two states.

Victorian WorkCover Authority Executive Director of Health and Safety, Len Neist, said the visits would help provide certainty to domestic, commercial and civil construction companies that worked along the border.

“In practical terms, there are very few differences between the states when it comes to construction safety,” Mr Neist said.

“No matter which state you are working in, it’s important to have a systematic approach to worksite safety. The key is a proper plan, implementing that plan and then monitoring work to ensure it is being done safely.

“Some of the main focuses of the visits include ensuring employers understand the importance of developing Safe Work Method Statements that accurately reflect tasks, ensuring all electrical equipment is tested and tagged, and keeping worksites secure to prevent unauthorised access.

“Inspectors are also reminding employers and workers to pay particular attention to site house-keeping. Untidy sites can lead to trips and falls and increase the risk of workers suffering sprained ankles or manual handling-related injuries.

Mr Neist said the campaign would help encourage better site practices, safety planning and supervision, which has been demonstrated by a drop in injury claims across the Wodonga region since the project began.

“The aim is to help reduce any confusion about working across the border while ensuring construction sites make safety their number one priority,” he said.

WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division Acting Director, Operations, Tony Williams said this week’s visits aimed to continue the safety and productivity improvements that had been seen on Border construction since the project commenced.

“Inspectors will provide advice and assistance to local builders and sub-contractors about how to make their construction sites safer,” Mr Williams said.

“This project is addressing the misperceptions about the two state’s safety laws being significantly different and improving construction industry productivity throughout the border region, so that more construction industry workers are returning home safely to their families and friends at the end of the working day.”

The construction industry is one of the highest risk industries in NSW with 1209 injuries and illnesses, including three fatalities in south-west NSW in the three years to 2010/11 at a cost of $14.3 million to the NSW workers compensation system.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority and WorkCover NSW will visit Albury and Wodonga from 16-20 June. The project is supported by key construction industry stakeholders from both states.

Media contacts:
Victorian WorkCover Authority: Kate Fawcett – (03) 9641 1809 or 0478 305 640.
WorkCover NSW: (02) 4321 5474 or 0413 186 799.

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