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Labourer dies from 3-metre fall

A 51-year-old labourer suffered serious head injuries and later died in hospital after he fell nearly 3 metres onto a tiled courtyard at a residential property. He was stepping off the building’s roof onto plastic covering on a pergola when it gave way.

SafeWork NSW says falls from heights are the number-one killer on construction sites in the state, with dozens of serious incidents reported each year.

The regulator states that reasonably practicable control measures should be taken to manage the risks associated with working on ladders and roofs.

These measures include inspecting the condition of skylights, plastic sheeting and asbestos cement sheeting, wire mesh and anchor points before commencing work on a roof. To determine if a surface is safe to walk on, the material needs to be checked, including how it’s fixed and whether it’s brittle.

Operators must ensure:

  • the work is planned to avoid walking on brittle material;
  • work is carried out from a solid construction to avoid standing on the roof, using temporary work platforms, such as crawling boards and ladders;
  • barriers, such as guardrails, covers and warning signs are installed;
  • safety mesh is installed; .a scaffold or scissor/boom lift is used; and
  • an adjustable fall-arrest system, such as a harness, with proper anchor points is put in place – and workers are trained how to use it.

If a ladder is required, several safety steps must be followed.

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