SafeWork NSW is issuing a reminder to businesses be aware of the risks of working in wet and windy conditions following a fatality and two serious incidents since yesterday.

Today a 73-year-old man died after he fell from mobile scaffolding that appears to have slipped from under him at a residential site in Maryville, while yesterday, a 62-year-old man sustained head injuries after he fell two metres from a ladder while cleaning roof gutters in Balgowlah.

Inspectors also attended a construction site in Lane Cove today after two bays of scaffolding collapsed onto the Pacific Highway during demolition work.

SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy said windy and wet conditions can play a large role in workplace incidents for those working outdoors, particularly in construction.

“During high winds and summer storms, everyone needs to be vigilant to manage the risks associated with high winds and bad weather,” Mr Dunphy said.

“High gusts of winds are unpredictable, and cause a range of serious workplace hazards associated with flying objects, working at heights and an increased risk of collapsed structures,” he said.

“Wind speeds are often stronger and faster at heights, so operating cranes or using powered access platforms require additional caution to prevent incidents occurring.

“It is also important to ensure that any loose equipment can’t be lifted by the wind such as cladding roof sheets, ladders or tools and that slippery surfaces are avoided where possible.

“Site controllers should talk with their workers and conduct a site-specific risk assessment and ensure adequate planning and preparation is in place so that all hazards are managed.

“Other hazards that may impact the safety of the workplace should be considered, including standing too close to loads, trees, and overhead powerlines.”

When working in gusty winds and wet conditions:

  • Wear eye protection where there is airborne dust and debris
  • Examine and strengthen structures to ensure they will remain standing during strong winds
  • Secure objects that can become airborne, including stacks of materials
  • Wear fall protection and secure ladders at the top and bottom when on them
  • Minimise the risk of trips and slips caused by wet surfaces
  • Assess if work can be postponed until dry weather

SafeWork NSW has a range of free guidance material on working at heights and how to conduct adequate workplace risk assessments.

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