SafeWork NSW issues working in strong winds warning

Media Release | 16/08/2017

SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder to businesses to ensure workers and the community are safe when working in strong winds after one worker was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents today.

The first incident occurred at Talinda Street, Carlingford when a male worker suffered fatal injuries when a wall collapsed at the site.

The second incident occurred on Thomas Boulton Crescent, Kellyville when a wall fell on a worker, causing serious injuries.

SafeWork inspectors have responded to both incidents and investigations have commenced.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said businesses needed to consider all hazards when working in strong winds so that workers and the community aren’t injured.

“Wet conditions can be a factor in workplace incidents for those working outdoors, particularly scaffolds on construction sites,” Mr Dunphy said.

“High gusts of wind are unpredictable, and cause a range of serious workplace hazards associated with flying objects and an increased risk of structural collapse.

“Wind speeds are often stronger at heights, so operating cranes or using platforms requires additional caution.

“Side loads, such as wind or materials leant against a wall under construction, can also cause a wall or scaffolding to collapse.

“It’s essential businesses conduct a site-specific risk assessment and site controllers talk with workers to ensure adequate planning and preparation is in place so that all hazards are managed.”

SafeWork NSW recommendations for working in windy conditions:

  • Ensure freestanding masonry walls are stable and adequately braced
  • Establish exclusion zones around incomplete masonry walls in extreme weather
  • Wear eye protection to protect eyes from dust and debris
  • Examine structures to ensure they will remain standing during strong winds
  • Secure objects that can become airborne, including stacks of materials
  • When working at heights, ensure adequate fall prevention is in place.

Mr Dunphy added that builders and developers must secure unattended construction sites.

“There are a number of things builders and developers can do to make their unattended sites safe, including ensuring power is off, clearing debris, blocking access to elevated floors, scaffolding and ladders, and storing plant and equipment, tools, chemicals and dangerous goods securely,” he said.

“They should also empty water drums, cover pits, trenches and pier holes, and erect appropriate signage, including an after-hours contact number.”

SafeWork NSW has a range of free guidance material on how to conduct risk assessments on its website www.safework.nsw.gov.au or call 13 10 50.

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