ACT Work Safety Blitz begins as High serious Accident Rate Revealed

According to ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe the state’s serious accident rate put it at the top of the country’s most dangerous construction jurisdictions, if new figures are anything to go by.

According to the figures from Safe Work Australia which haven’t been officially published as yet, the ACT has seen a 17 per cent increase in serious accidents on construction sites between 2011-2012. The ACT recorded 30.5 serious injury accidents (those that required a worker’s compensation claim and a week or more off work) for every 1000 workers in the same period, whereas the previous year the number was just 24.5, as compared with the national average which is 18.7.

The fact that the ACT tops the most dangerous construction site jurisdictions in the country explains the new safety blitz which inspectors will be embarking on from this week. This week will see the beginning of a 3 week blitz targeting residential construction across Canberra.

Workers and contractors should be aware that inspectors will be issuing on-the-spot fines of up to $3600. Inspectors will look at falls from heights, signage, fencing, amenities, housekeeping, scaffolding, electrical test and tagging, white cards and personal protective equipment.

This article from explains more about the ACT’s problematic serious injury rate on construction sites, which also explains the need for blitzes such as the one beginning this week,

web13IncidenceRatesGraph_Page1-620x349When the accident rate is converted to a rate of actual injuries, 363 construction workers were seriously injured in the territory in 2011-12 compared with 321 the year before.

The new figures are due to be published by Safe Work Australia in their ”Comparative Performance Monitoring Report” in October, which provides the most comprehensive industry by industry workers’ compensation claim comparisons across the states and territories.

As the report has not been published yet, the ACT figures are not able to be compared with the other states or territories.

Tasmania had been slightly ahead of the ACT in 2010-11 for injuries requiring a week or more off work, but Mr McCabe said he could not imagine the ACT would not eclipse Tasmania with a 17 per cent increase.

When accidents requiring 12 weeks or more off work are tallied, the ACT already leads the nation with 9.5 accidents for every 1000 workers in 2010-11. This is well above Tasmania, on 5.6 accidents, with the national average 5.2.

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It is surprising that the ACT’s construction sector has experienced so many serious injuries in the last year, despite remaining free of fatalities for the past 12 months.

There have been some serious breaches of safety recorded by authorities, such as 2 worksites which were shut down just last month because of dangerous scaffolding as well as another case where a metal pipe was dropped from a scaffold, piercing an electric cable and nearly hitting into a gas pipe. These are the types of incidents leading to such a high serious injury rate which needs to be addressed by the construction industry in the state.

Site controllers/ Principal contractors in Canberra (and throughout the state) need to review the safety measures and procedures on their sites to ensure that they are continually effective in ensuring the safety of workers. They also need to ensure that all their workers are adequately trained and supervised to ensure site safety and avoid getting on-the-spot fines and being prosecuted by work safety authorities.


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