What we can learn from the fall of a Teenage Construction Worker

Teenage workers are particularly vulnerable to workplace hazards because of their naivety and inexperience but the case of a teenage worker in Sydney who fell 1 meter down a lift shaft could have happened to even experienced workers.  The unfortunate youth suffered a fractured skull and injury to his spine.

Read what happened from this post on Abc.net.au:

A teenager has survived a 10-metre fall down a lift shaft on a building site in Sydney’s north.

The 17-year-old fell four storeys and landed on concrete in Lane Cove at about 9:00am (AEDT).

The Construction Forestry Electrical Mining Union says he has been taken to hospital with a suspected fractured skull and as well as spinal injuries.

The Union’s Mark Sutcliffe says the boy tried to get up after the fall.

“He’s lucid, he’s in the hospital answering questions,” he said.

“They believe he may have a cracked skull and he’s going to be very sore and sorry for himself.

“At this stage though they’re quite happy that he can talk.

“He did try and get up and obviously his workmates kept him down until such time as the ambulance arrived.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-07/teen-survives-four-storey-lift-shaft-fall/4414906/?site=sydney

Workers are often forced to work on scaffolding, roofs and other elevated structures without the proper precautionary measures because of time restraints and limitations in safety equipment provided. This is often the cause of the problem.

According to statistics, falling is the main cause of injury and death of construction workers in Oz. Therefore workers need to be vigilant when working from heights and even more so when their work involves work on structures, higher than normal such as roofs and ceilings.

Workers should be provided with and trained on the correct use of PPE and its use. It is also important that the work area should be reasonably stable.

Physical barriers should be in place over exposed edges, such as guard rails. Safe access and walkways should be provided to all parts of your workplaceOnce the risk has been identified and assessed the risks should be either eliminated or substituted with a less dangerous activity.

A workplace health and safety plan should be used to manage workplace health and such as plan should include how to handle hazards to health and safety from working on an elevated position or any place from which a person can fall.

An edge protection system can be made of guard railing to be used on the edge of working platforms, walkways, stairways, ramps and landings and should run parallel to the working surface.

Holes or openings are often covered with wire mesh. These should not be used as a working platform. All covers should be securely fixed around the hole. Signs should also be attached to the cover to warn people that there is a hole underneath. This is a particularly dangerous hazard as many lives have been lost when workers fell through uncovered holes.

The best method of protection is to use personal fall protection in conjunction with other fall protection systems. The use of these fall protection systems requires proper training to ensure that workers are using the equipment correctly if it is reduce the injury caused by falling.



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