Construction Safety Update : Preventing structural collapse in Construction

With the wall collapse last month on a site in Melbourne which claimed the lives of 3 pedestrians, the need for structural collapse in construction is a safety issue which requires attention. Therefore an alert has been issued by WorkSafe Victoria on their website highlighting the importance of ensuring structural stability of buildings and structures, especially when engaging in construction, demolition and refurbishment work.

This is the background to the alert as indicated on WorkSafe Vic’s website:


The collapse of structures, including buildings, may result in death or serious injury to employees and the public.

There have been numerous incidents where structures have collapsed. This has been due to:

inclement weather, particularly wind

the foundations or temporary supports of the structure being undermined

lateral supports of the structure being removed

the structure receiving a heavy impact, or

any combination of these and other factors.

Incidents have included:

a portal steel building collapsing during construction

a house being restumped sliding off its jacks while employees were under the house

a carport wall under construction collapsing onto sheltering employees during a storm.

Read more

One of the ways principal contractors can manage the risk is by checking the stability of structures at each stage of the construction. They could also install lateral supports which can help the wall or building remain sturdy during construction.

Before constructing buildings, bridges or any structures a strategic erection plan must be coordinated, one which incorporates the construction sequence, rate of building erection and support required for the wall or building. There may be a need for lateral or temporary supports which should be included in the structural drawings of the building.

Also where structures are being erected, exclusion zones should be established to exclude unauthorised personnel and the public from injury in the event of a collapse. Only workers who are authorised and necessary should operate within these exclusion zones. Passers-by should be protected from injury at all times, if this had been done on the Melbourne site, the 3 pedestrians may still be alive today.

WorkSafe goes on to explain control measures that should be implemented as well as information about temporary bracing inspections:

Temporary bracing inspections

a competent person should inspect the temporary bracing arrangements and verify in writing the stability of the structure when the bracing is first installed.

A competent person should regularly assess the stability of the structure while temporary bracing is required. Inspections should be done at regular intervals, based on a risk assessment that takes into account the structure’s condition, environmental factors and length of time the bracing has been in place.

In addition, an inspection should occur as soon as possible after an extreme weather event or other incident that could affect stability.

Read the alert on:

It is also important to engage a qualified and competent engineer to provide specifications to ensure that the structure is stable and construction workers should stick to this precisely, at the end of each day and at the beginning of every new phase of construction, it is more than a matter of construction safety, it is a matter of public safety as well.

If you’re new to construction, here’s an outline of the important construction safety induction course


Construction Safety Update: Make Sure you Keep Young Workers Safe

Is your business doing everything necessary to keep new and young workers safe or are these workers just left to their own devices once on site?

WorkCover NSW has issued a reminder to all businesses about the need to ensure the safety of young workers following the high number of injuries suffered already this year by apprentice workers. Many of these injuries have occurred on construction sites and involved electrical apprentices, plumber apprentices and general workers on construction sites.

Another 2 young workers were injured last week Wednesday while engaging in carpentry work. An 18 year old apprentice was injured while assisting in moving floor sheeting off a pallet with a crane when the sheeting dislodged and hit him, causing him to break one of his legs. Why an apprentice was allowed to operate heavy machinery like a crane is questionable. Crane work is dangerous and requires workers who are suitably certified, trained and experienced, which this young worker clearly was not.

The second incident involved a young apprentice carpenter who was injured when a trench collapsed, causing a slab of concrete to fall onto him, causing him serious injuries to his back and legs.

Read this post from explains further:

young-worker-150x150“With thousands of young people entering the workforce for the first time after finishing school and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period, it is essential for everyone in the workplace to step up and take special care to alert young workers to potential safety hazards,” said Mr Watson.

“Workers aged under 25 may be more vulnerable to workplace safety risks because of their youth and inexperience or reluctance to speak up about safety concerns,” he said.

“Around 12 percent of all employment injuries and occupational diseases occur among the State’s 572,000 young workers.

“During 2009-10 almost 5,000 compensation claims were lodged by young workers with the most common injuries being muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects.


Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they have the appropriate systems in place to keep all workers especially new and young ones safe. Sufficient training, support and supervision is required for these workers and good communication should be established with them so that they feel free to raise any safety concerns or ask about anything they are unsure of.

The post goes on to state:

WorkCover offers the following suggestions for employers and workers to help prevent injuries:

For employers:

  • Provide adequate training and supervision in all tasks
  • Provide a comprehensive induction
  • Identify safety risks and put in place procedures to reduce and control the risks
  • Encourage open communication about safety issues

For young workers:

  • Follow all safety procedures and ask questions if uncertain
  • Report any risks and hazards to a supervisor or colleague
  • Use safety equipment and protective clothing if needed
  • Do not fool around with machinery




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