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Builders urged to make safety a priority in 2013

Media release

17 January 2013

Builders urged to make safety a priority in 2013

Last year health and safety inspectors issued over 1,000 notices and written warnings to construction companies performing work at height unsafely.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment assessed more than 1,600 construction sites in 2012 as part of the Preventing Falls from Height project, which aims to reduce injuries and fatalities caused by falls in the construction sector.

The project continues in 2013 and construction workers are urged to make safety a priority in the New Year.

“The Ministry will continue to target sites that carry out work at height unsafely and those companies that put their workers at risk,” says Francois Barton, the Ministry’s Southern Division General Manager.

“We want to see enforcement figures improving in 2013 – safe work at height should be standard practice in the industry.”

“Despite the high number of notices and warnings issued last year, it has been very positive to see some construction companies using innovative solutions to ensure their staff are safe while working at height. Companies are using adaptive scaffolding systems, mobile stair systems instead of ladders, and soft landing systems to stop workers getting hurt from falling off the top plate.”

“Many of these solutions are also increasing productivity by improving access for builders and the tradespeople that work alongside them.”

Builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters and decorators are the most likely to fall from height and get seriously hurt while they are working.

“Tradespeople are going back to work after a few weeks off, so now is the time for a renewed focus on safety issues,” Mr Barton says.

Hundreds of construction workers are injured on building sites every year – these accidents are preventable if every care is taken. Workers must make safety a priority, particularly over summer when there is an overall increase in workplace injury.

“Working long hours in the sun can take its toll, so it is also important for workers to look after themselves both physically and mentally – take breaks and stay hydrated, and keep an eye on stress and fatigue levels,” Mr Barton says.

“Health and safety is the responsibility of everyone on the site. We all have a role to play in improving workplace safety – doing nothing is not an option.”

More information on the preventing Falls from height project is available at http://dol.govt.nz/prevent-falls/index.asp

[ends]

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