The Andrews Labor Government is warning employers to protect their workers from serious injury or death when using portable ladders.
Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy and WorkSafe Victoria visited Braybrook today to announce inspectors have been targeting housing estates and apartment developments as part of a three week blitz. This follows a spate of serious incidents and three fatalities involving ladders since November last year.
In the first six working days since the program started on September 20, WorkSafe visited 70 sites and identified 28 contraventions of health and safety legislation.
Tragically, a 60-year-old man died after he fell from a ladder while installing a skylight at Rutherglen in August this year. In March this year, a 60-year-old man died after falling from a ladder at Neilborough, and a 21-year-old man died in Bendigo after he fell from a ladder at a residential site in November last year.
There have been at least 62 incidents reported to WorkSafe involving ladders on construction sites since January.
Portable ladders are one of the most unstable tools for working at height or for providing access to platforms and scaffolding. Employers must ensure they remove or reduce the risk to workers when working from height and should consider what alternatives to a ladder are available.
WorkSafe prosecutes employers who fail to protect their workers from the risks associated with ladders.
Last month, ADGR Realty Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $15,000 following an incident in which a 19-year-old apprentice fell from a height of more than four metres from a ladder. The apprentice has suspected spinal and head injuries after being pressured into standing dangerously on top of the ladder.
The Labor Government announced a Workplace Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce earlier this year as the first step in developing new legislation to make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence.
Under the proposed new laws, employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and will face up to 20 years in jail.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy
“Too many Victorians are not making it home to their friends and families after falling from portable ladders – and dozens more have been injured. This blitz is about ensuring employers are doing the right thing by their staff.”
“It is every employer’s responsibility to keep their workers safe on the job. This includes eliminating or reducing the risks of using a portable ladder.”
Quote attributable to WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Julie Nielsen
“Even a fall from a low height can have serious consequences, so it is important that employers remain vigilant in ensuring they meet all their occupational health and safety obligations.”