Incident information releases

Incident Information Releases inform industry and the NSW Community about work health and safety incidents with the intention of preventing similar occurrences and provide information to assist PCBU’s and workers meet their Work Health and Safety obligations.

SafeWork NSW has a number of functions outlined in the NSW Work Health and Safety Act. One such function is to “provide advice and information on work health and safety to duty holders under this Act and to the community.”

SafeWork NSW undertakes a range of communication activities in relation to workplace incidents including the development and distribution of safety and incident alerts, guidance material and court outcomes.

SafeWork NSW develops Incident Information Releases to inform duty holders, workers and the NSW Community about work health and safety incidents with the intention of preventing similar occurrences. SafeWork NSW expects duty holders will be in a position to use information provided within Incident Information Releases to assist in reviewing their risk management approach and systems of work, in consultation with relevant workers.

2018 releases

Fall through plastic roof sheeting 23 August 2018

Incident date

23 August 2018

Event

Fall from height through plastic roof sheeting

Location

Tomago in Northern NSW

Incident overview

A 19-year-old first year apprentice electrician was on the roof of a single storey commercial building, assisting with the installation of solar panels. The worker stepped on a plastic roof sheet and fell approximately 7 metres. The rope line had excessive slack between the worker and the anchorage point. The excessive slack in the rope line allowed the worker to fall the 7 metres to the concrete slab below.

The worker sustained multiple serious injuries from the incident. SafeWork NSW and NSW Ambulance responded to the incident and the worker was conveyed to hospital but later died from his injuries.


View of the broken roof sheeting from within the building.
View of the broken roof sheeting from within the building.

The site

The site is located at Tomago in Northern NSW. The activity being undertaken at the time was the installation of solar panels on a commercial building. A solar panel installation company was engaged to undertake the work for the commercial business.

The investigation

  • SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.
  • SafeWork NSW has commenced an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.
Our Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outline our approach to prosecutions and Safe Work Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on our approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

Safety information

Businesses and workers are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Each year SafeWork NSW respond to incidents where workers have died or been seriously injured from falls from heights. Many of these incidents involve falling through brittle or fragile roof material.

Businesses are reminded to consider reasonable and practicable control measures to manage the risk of falls.

Before commencing work on an existing roof, carry out an inspection from the ground to determine:

  • the presence and condition of sky lights, plastic roof sheeting and other brittle roof sheeting such as asbestos cement sheeting.
  • the presence and condition of safety mesh.

When determining whether roof surfaces are safe to walk on, consider the product materials and method of fixing, including any possible deterioration in strength. Note: products may become brittle and fixings may become less rigid over time.

Control measures to prevent a person from falling through a non-trafficable roof or skylight include:

  • plan the work to avoid accessing unsafe areas
  • work from a solid construction to avoid standing on the roof itself
  • install temporary work platforms (crawling boards) and roof ladders as appropriate
  • install barriers, such as guard rails or covers, that are secured and labelled with warning signs
  • install safety mesh when installing the roof sheeting
  • install a fall arrest system (harness system) which has adequately-installed anchorage points, along with training and instruction in the use.
  • ensure workers using an adjustable length fall arrest system are competent and aware that the system is intended to provide protection against falling through the roof, not just falls off the edge, and therefore they need to adjust the length to limit slack as they move.

Ensure the selected control measures are being consistently applied, and review the control measures as work progresses.

Further information

Please refer to the following guidance materials:

About this information release

We have issued this information to draw attention to the occurrence of a fatality in the Commercial Roofing industry. Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Users are reminded of the need to ensure any information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate SafeWork NSW officer or the user’s independent adviser. No conclusions should be drawn from the information in this publication about the cause of the incident or the culpability of any party.

All photographs were taken by SafeWork NSW.

Download a PDF of this release

Fall from height on construction site 3 August 2018

Incident date

3 August 2018

Event

Fall from height on construction site

Location

Church Street, Parramatta

Incident overview

A 62-year-old worker was undertaking formwork at a Parramatta construction site. He was placing a joist onto the falsework bearers below when he fell approximately 3.7 metres from the ply deck he was standing on to the deck below. He sustained a broken rib and a laceration to the back of his head.

SafeWork NSW and NSW Police responded to the incident. The worker was conveyed to hospital and received treatment for his injuries.

View of the formwork from the side and the level below

The site

The site is located at Church Street, Parramatta. Activities being undertaken at the site included formwork in preparation for a concrete pour. It is a multilevel construction site and is under the control of a principal contractor, with a sub-contractor engaged to carry out the formwork onsite.

The investigation

SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.

Our Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outline our approach to prosecutions and Safe Work Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on their approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

Safety information

Businesses are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Each year SafeWork respond to incidents where workers have fallen from a height. Fall prevention/protection measures include: guardrails, catch platforms, catch nets, and scaffold.

Businesses are reminded to consider reasonable and practicable control measures to manage the risk of falls from heights while installing formwork, including:

  • eliminating the need to work from heights, eg use table forms or modular systems that can be erected from below
  • using a temporary working platform, scaffolding, boom lift or scissor lift to install bearers and joists from below
  • providing edge protection, eg guardrails on non-leading edges and catch platforms or catch nets at leading edges to limit the potential fall distance
  • covering and marking, or installing guardrails around, penetrations/voids
  • providing workers with safe means of access and egress to work areas

Further information

About this information release

We have issued this information to draw attention to the occurrence of a fatality/serious injury/serious incident in the construction industry. Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Users are reminded of the need to ensure any information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate SafeWork NSW officer or the user’s independent adviser. No conclusions should be drawn from the information in this publication about the cause of the incident or the culpability of any party.

All photographs were taken by SafeWork NSW.

Download a PDF of this release

Struck by plant on construction site 30 July 2018

Incident date

30 July 2018

Event

Struck by plant on construction site

Location

Epping Road at Macquarie Park

Incident overview

A 36-year-old male worker was agitating concrete being poured into a column. A blockage in the pipework has caused a build-up of pressure. Several pump and delivery line components failed, resulting in the rubber discharge hose striking the worker.

SafeWork NSW and NSW Ambulance responded to the incident. The worker was conveyed to Hospital and he received treatment for his injuries.

Image of the rubber end (discharge) hose, coupling, elbow and two pump line components.
Image of the rubber end (discharge) hose, coupling, elbow and two pump line components.

The site

The site is located on Epping Road at Macquarie Park. It is a high rise residential construction site and is under the control of a principal contractor. A sub-contractor had also been engaged to carry out the concrete pour.

The investigation

SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.

Our Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outlines our approach to prosecutions and Safe Work Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on their approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

Safety Information

Businesses are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Each year, we respond to incidents where workers have been struck by plant, including concrete placing equipment. Many of these incidents involve the sudden escape of pressurised concrete, the dislodgement or failure of pipeline components, or the sudden movement of the plant and/or components resulting from pressure build-up within the equipment.

Workers in the construction industry are most commonly injured.

Due to the cyclic loading of the pulsating pump, the risk of mechanical or structural failure of concrete pumping equipment is increased when compared to other plant, particularly risks associated with:

  • fatigue failure of welds
  • restraining devices such as pins and circlips becoming dislodged.

Businesses are reminded to consider reasonably practicable control measures to manage the risk of structural or mechanical failure of concrete placing equipment by ensuring that:

  • operators of concrete placing booms hold the relevant high-risk work licence
  • periodic inspection, testing and maintenance is undertaken in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, including pipe wall thickness testing
  • welding or repair work on the concrete pump or any associated equipment is only undertaken by a welder or service provider holding the appropriate qualifications and, where possible, in possession of the manufacturer’s current specifications
  • pre-operational inspections are undertaken, including the visual inspection of structural components and other critical components such as fasteners, pins, shafts, welds and locking devices such as pipe clamps are secured with safety pins, and clamp and anchor nuts are tightened adequately
  • all lines, pipes, couplings and fittings can withstand the maximum pump pressure (including during blockages) or the pump pressure is adjusted so that it does not exceed pipeline capacity
  • all metal pipes and pipeline components are identified and checked for compatibility
  • pipes are anchored at intervals specified by the manufacturer, and near joints to prevent bending and casing fatigue failures
  • reducers are only used as per the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid overload of the delivery line

Further information

Please refer to the following guidance materials:

About this information release

We have issued this information to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious injury in the construction industry. Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Users are reminded of the need to ensure any information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate SafeWork NSW officer or the user’s independent adviser. No conclusions should be drawn from the information in this publication about the cause of the incident or the culpability of any party.

All photographs were taken by SafeWork NSW.

Download a PDF of this release

Electrical incident resulting in an arc flash 24 July 2018

Incident date

24 July 2018

Event

Electrical incident resulting in an arc flash

Location

Bidwill

Incident overview

A 31-year old male worker was undertaking excavation works using an electrical hammer drill to remove concrete which covered a shallow trench. The work was being undertaken near low voltage cables and an 11kv high voltage cable, all of which were energised at the time. The worker struck the 11kv cable and an arc flash occurred. He sustained serious burns to his upper body and face.

Over 13,600 homes were affected, with power restored to the majority of homes soon after the incident. The remaining homes were supplied with power from a generator until the damaged 11kV cable could be repaired.

SafeWork NSW, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police Force and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (electricity supply regulator), responded to the incident. The worker was conveyed to hospital and is receiving treatment for his injuries.

Trench excavation site where works were being undertaken.
Trench excavation site where works were being undertaken.

The site

The site is located at Bidwill, in Sydney’s West. Activities undertaken at the site included excavation work and the running of electrical cable inside the trench. The site was under the control of a contractor who had been engaged by the electrical network operator to undertake the works.

The investigation

  • SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.
  • SafeWork NSW has commenced an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.

Our Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outlines our approach to prosecutions and Safe Work Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on their approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

Safety information

Businesses are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Each year, we respond to incidents where workers have been exposed to risks associated with working near underground electrical assets. Many of these incidents involve energised cables being struck by plant, which can result in serious injuries including burns, electric shock or death.

Businesses are reminded of their duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance of an underground electric line.

If it is not reasonably practicable to ensure the safe distance of a person, plant or thing from an underground electric line, you must make sure that:

  • a risk assessment is conducted in relation to the proposed work
  • the control measures implemented are consistent with the risk assessment and any requirements of the electrical network operator responsible for the electric line.

Being aware of the risk of electric shock or serious burns from striking live electricity cables while excavating is critical. When undertaking excavation works, know the environment, know your tools and equipment, and know the steps to take to get the job done safely and without causing damage.

If you don’t know, don’t dig, and follow the four P’s of safe excavation:

  • Plan
  • Pothole
  • Protect
  • Proceed.

Further information

The guide to working near underground assets has detailed information for businesses, workers, and other parties involved in construction work near underground assets.

Awareness video: Don’t Know Don’t Dig

Download a PDF of this release

Falling object from construction site 6 July 2018

Incident date

6 July 2018

Event

Falling object from construction site

Location

Princes Highway at Rockdale

Overview

During the demolition of an existing commercial premises, parts of the front façade fell onto the pedestrian footpath, scattering debris onto the footpath and the Princes Highway. The incident occurred during strong winds. As a result, two northbound lanes of the highway were closed. There were no reported injuries.

SafeWork NSW, NSW Police, Fire and Rescue and Public Works Engineers responded to the incident.

Front and side view of the building façade with a view of the façade collapse onto the footpath.
Front and side view of the building façade with a view of the façade collapse onto the footpath.

    The site

    The site is located on Princes Highway at Rockdale. The site is currently undergoing demolition and is under the control of a principal contractor. A sub-contractor had also been engaged to carry out demolition works on the site. At the time of the incident, the front façade and partial return/buttress walls were the only building elements yet to be demolished. The front façade consisted of brickwork, and glass windows and doors.

    The investigation

    • SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.
    • SafeWork NSW has commenced an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.

    SafeWork NSW’s Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outlines the Regulator’s approach to prosecutions and SafeWork Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on the Regulator’s approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

    Safety information

    Businesses are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

    Principal contractors and other businesses working in construction and/or demolition have additional and specific duties under the WHS legislation. Those duties extend to both workers and others – including members of the public, and require businesses to ensure the risks associated with unplanned structural collapse and/or falling debris are managed so far as is reasonably practicable in accordance with the legislation.

    Businesses are required to implement reasonably practicable measures to the eliminate or minimise the risks associated with unplanned structural collapse or falling debris by ensuring:

    • the demolition method and sequencing is planned in consultation with the building/structure designers, or if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, in consultation with appropriately competent persons eg structural engineers.
    • the building or structure to be demolished and all its components are maintained in a safe and structurally stable condition at all times until completion of the project. Temporary braces, propping, shoring or guys may need to be added to ensure that stability of the structure is maintained.
    • external factors that may impact on the structural integrity of the building or structure are considered and the associated risks are managed eg vibrations from demolition activities, wind, water pooling or egress around footings or supports.
    • adequate protection to members of the public are provided and maintained by installing, for example, hoarding, overhead protective structures, heavy duty scaffolding and/or or containment screening; or by implementing road closures and/or specified exclusion zones.
    • measures installed to provide public protection are designed and constructed to withstand the applicable loads (consultation with an appropriately competent person may be required).
    • measures installed to provide public protection are in place prior to commencing associated demolition works.
    • all control measures are monitored by a competent person to assess the on-going suitability of the demolition method and sequencing and to identify signs of structural weakening e.g. movement or cracking.

    Further information

    Please refer to the following guidance materials:

    About this information release

    SafeWork NSW has issued this information to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious incident in the construction industry. Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

    The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Users are reminded of the need to ensure any information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate officer of SafeWork NSW or the user’s independent adviser. No conclusions should be drawn from the information in this publication about the cause of the incident or the culpability of any party.

    All photographs were taken by SafeWork NSW.

    Download a PDF of this release

Hit by prefabricated concrete panel 13 September 2018

Incident date

13/09/2018

Event

Hit by falling object

Location

Seven Hills

Incident overview

A 10 tonne prefabricated concrete panel approximately 12m in length and 2.1m in width was being lifted off a truck using a crane and was to be rotated mid-air and moved into position as part of constructing a commercial premises. However, as it was being lifted it broke into pieces, striking and injuring a 50 year old worker assisting with the lift.

NSW Police and Ambulance responded to the incident and the worker was conveyed to hospital and received treatment for his injuries.

The pre-fabricated concrete panel which broke into pieces when being raised into place.
View of the pre-fabricated concrete panel which broke into pieces when being raised into place.

The site

The site is located at Seven Hills. The activity being undertaken at the time was the construction of a commercial premises using prefabricated concrete panels. The site is under the control of a principal contractor with several sub-contractors working onsite.

The investigation

SafeWork NSW Inspectors responded to the incident.

Our Prosecution Guidelines (January 2018) outline our approach to prosecutions and Safe Work Australia’s National Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on their approach to compliance. These documents set out factors that will be considered in determining the investigative approach and appropriate outcome.

Safety information

Businesses are reminded of their duty to identify hazards and manage risks to health and safety in accordance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Tilt-up and pre-cast panels must be designed for both erection loads and for loadings experienced when they make up part of the completed building or structure (i.e. ‘in-service loads’). The loads applied to the panel during lifting off the casting bed, transport, handling, erection, and while the panels are temporarily braced are different from loads applied when part of the final structure. The erection designer(s) must therefore design the panel for all types of loading.  Erection crews must then ensure panels are lifted and braced in the manner specified by the erection designer(s).

Tilt-up panels should only be lifted when the concrete has cured long enough to attain the minimum required concrete strength specified by the lifting insert supplier. The minimum concrete strength for most proprietary brand lifting inserts is 25 MPa. Some inserts may require a higher strength than 25 MPa.

Further information

Please refer to the following guidance materials:

About this information release

We have issued this information to draw attention to the occurrence of a fatality/serious injury/serious incident in the prefabricated concrete industry. Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Users are reminded of the need to ensure any information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate SafeWork NSW officer or the user’s independent adviser. No conclusions should be drawn from the information in this publication about the cause of the incident or the culpability of any party.

All photographs were taken by SafeWork NSW.

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