SafeWork NSW will soon have the power to issue penalty notices of up to $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals if they fail to protect employees against falls from heights.
Amendments to the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation will allow inspectors to issue the fines on-the-spot if the risk of injury is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is a repeat offender.
SafeWork NSW say they have attended 234 incidents involving falls from heights this year alone – eight of which have been fatal. According to workers compensation data, there were more than 12 000 claims related to falls from heights between 2013/14 and 2015/16. This represents a total cost of $327 million and total lost work time of 126,945 weeks.
SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy said these incidents were preventable, and that every worker had the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. “A fall, even from a relatively low height, can result in serious injury or death. Most incidents could have been prevented if safe work systems such as safety harnesses or work platforms had been used.”
Mr Dunphy said the new penalty notices were also in response to industry concerns that some businesses gain a commercial advantage by cutting corners on worker safety.
“It is simply unacceptable that some employers are willing to put their workers’ lives at risk just to make extra money. Fining employers that ignore their work health and safety obligations will create a level playing field for those employers who take safety seriously, while also saving lives.”
The new fines come into effect on the 1st November.