Regulator launches campaign to reduce falls from height

A notable rise in serious injuries caused by falls from heights has prompted SafeWork SA to launch an awareness campaign to keep workers safe.

The state’s workplace health and safety regulator today revealed that 2023 saw a 36 per cent increase in the number of serious workplace injuries caused by falling from heights across all industries compared to the previous year.

The falls prevention campaign coincides with the release of Safework SA’s 2023 Health and Safety Snapshot of the construction industry.

Of the 105 serious injuries sustained in workplace falls in 2023, more than half involved construction workers, five times more than any other industry.

There were 58 serious injuries in construction, including 36 in the residential sector, and 10 involving apprentices.

SafeWork SA identified 399 non-compliances across all industries in 2023, with construction accounting for 89 per cent.

The 2023 snapshot shows:

  • residential construction sector had the most non-compliances with 292 compared to 58 in commercial and six in civil.
  • misuse of ladders was the biggest contributor to serious injuries from falls with 35 incidents.
  • carpentry and working on a roof had a high number of serious injuries caused by falls with 13 and 14 respectively.
  • 83 per cent of serious injuries were due to falls below three metres.
  • 20 per cent of falls resulted in head injuries.

SafeWork SA inspectors will visit construction sites and continue to monitor compliance with managing the risk of falls.

SafeWork SA is also providing access to a new interactive tool created by Safe Work Australia to guide businesses and workers through the process of formally documenting risks and controls for each project, including working at height.

Produced in consultation with construction unions and associations, a sample Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Guidance Tool based on first fix carpentry is available on the SafeWork SA website.

The campaign will also target the six construction activities that the audit identified as having the most non-compliance with safety tips published on SafeWork SA’s social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Outside of construction, falls accounted for 11 serious injuries in manufacturing, eight in transport, postal and warehousing, eight in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and four in mining, with the remainder attributed to other sectors, including health care, arts and recreation and retail.

“We will be carefully monitoring the safety performance of the residential sector in particular and looking for significant improvements,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Glenn Farrell.