Construction Safety Crackdown - State-by-State Analysis

We've reviewed the latest construction workplace safety data so you don't have to.

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Matt Perrott
Co-Founder - BuildPass
Feb 12, 2024 - 23:00 PMMax 7min read
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There’s been some alarming construction injury and safety data released recently, demonstrating the human impact and other effects not upholding building compliance standards is having on the community.

According to Safe Work Australia’s Key Work Health and Safety Statistics 2023, in the last decade over 1,850 traumatic injury fatalities have occurred in Australia – with 195 of these occurring in 2022 (when the latest data was released) – however, significant in-roads have been made recently to curtail this sombre statistic.

Nationally, stricter policies and the adoption of site safety technology like ours have contributed to a 30 per cent decline in fatality rates since 2012, the same Safe Work Australia research revealed.

But there’s still work to be done to ensure everyone who goes to work, comes home safely.

There’s been several workplace safety blitzes led by government agencies lately, targeting unsafe work practices on worksites. We've reviewed the latest reports and data to provide you with a snapshot of the different safety and compliance issues affecting the sector.

Construction Safety Blitz Insights

The state’s recent ‘Cross Border Construction Program’ from 31 October – 3 November (a joint venture between WorkSafe Victoria and Safe Work NSW) focussed on improving compliance levels among local construction businesses, targeting working at heights and crystalline silica dust management, as well as general workplace safety.

During the campaign, WorkSafe Victoria inspectors issued 11 improvement notices over 17 surprise visits, calling out another four safety matters that were resolved on the spot. These related to matters like conducting high-risk work not in accordance with SWMS, not having a Crystalline Silica Hazard Control Statement, electrical and working at height risks, as well as poor site security and housekeeping.

New South Wales
The same Cross Border Construction Program in NSW saw 21 sites visited, resulting in 36 improvement notices being issued. These notices were primarily related to issues such as inadequate site security, non-compliance with testing and tagging requirements for electrical equipment, absence of a Safe Work Method Statement and various safety concerns.

Further north, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland launched its own state-wide blitz that ran until the end of December, cracking down specifically on unlicensed trades and working at height-related violations.

In 2022, Queensland was reported by Safe Work Australia as the state with the second highest worker fatality rate, which has been a key driver behind the implementation of this latest worksite crackdown.

South Australia
Safe Work SA has just completed an intensive six-month probe into halting risky construction practices. Alarmingly, in the campaign’s first four-months, the organisation produced over 100 stop-work notices to non-compliant businesses that did not adhere to general site compliance and working from height policies. Final data has not yet been announced by the organisation.

Western Australia
Specific data around types of common workplace injuries is limited, however, sadly the latest Key Work Health and Safety Statistics published by Safe Work Australia have revealed WA recorded the highest fatal injuries of any state and territory in the country. Across the state, 2.2 people per 100,000 workers were involved in a fatal incident at work, stemming largely from vehicle incidents (42 per cent).

The latest Industry Snapshot released by WorkSafe Tasmania (published July 2022) unveiled that 744 workers were injured across the building sector, with most common causes being falls, trips and slips, body stressing and being hit by moving objects. Bricklayers, carpenters and joiners had the highest percentage of serious injury.

Northern Territory
In the top end, 11 per cent of workplace injury claims are made by construction workers, which amounted to 2,337 individual claims in the past year.

Among the leading causes of injuries were being hit by moving objects and body stressing like strains and sprains (both 26.2 per cent), as well as falls, trips and slips which comprised 21.4 per cent of claim-related incidents.

Australian Capital Territory
Across October last year, WorkSafe ACT conducted 149 workplace visits, with nearly half (65) of these taking place at construction sites. From these construction site inspections 39 prohibition notices were issued, as well as a further 45 improvement notices for risky works that had the potential to cause harm.

Incidents Impacting Aussies & Workplaces

Broadly speaking, the Australia-wide agenda has aimed to reduce the amount of working from height-related injuries, improving crystalline silica management, preventing incidents involving being struck by moving objects, while concurrently improving general aspects of site safety.

According to Safe Work Australia, if we removed average construction work-related injury and illnesses, this would increase Australia’s economy by $28.6bn, inject an extra 185,500 full-time jobs and support a 1.3 per cent pay increase for average wages across all occupations and skill levels.

As we embark further into a new year, it’s imperative that we continue to uphold safety and compliance standards as an industry, no matter how busy we are.

As a business, our goal is to empower employers and workers to improve their site safety, providing you with easy-to-use tools that make key compliance and administrative tasks less tedious and more streamlined than ever before.

If you would like to learn more about how our integrated site operations platform can help reduce the potential for workplace incidents, please reach out to us.

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