New fines to protect NSW workers from falls

Media Release | 29/09/2017

SafeWork NSW will soon have the power to issue penalty notices of up to $3600 to NSW workplaces if they fail to protect employees against falls from heights.

This year alone, SafeWork NSW has attended 234 incidents involving falls from heights, including eight fatalities. Over half these incidents occurred in the construction industry.

Workers compensation data shows there were 12,136 claims relating to falls from heights between 2013/14 and 2015/16, representing a total cost of $327 million and total lost work time of 126,945 weeks. This significantly impacts workers, their families and the NSW economy.

Under amendments to the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation being gazetted today, SafeWork NSW inspectors will be able to issue penalty notices of $3600 to corporations and $720 to individuals for breaches relating to falls from heights.

If the risk of injury to workers is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is considered to be a repeat offender, the fines can be issued on-the-spot.

“Every NSW worker has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, so they can return to their homes and loved ones at the end of the day,” SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy said.

“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 are 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,” he said.

“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.”

New fines will also be gazetted today for individuals who carry out asbestos removal or prescribed high-risk work without a licence. All new penalty notices will come into force from 1 November 2017.

For more information, visit SafeWork's page on penalty notices or call 13 10 50.

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contact@safework.nsw.gov.au
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