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New Guidelines Reduce Deaths And Serious Injuries


30 JULY 2014

New Guidelines Reduce Deaths And Serious Injuries in Residential Construction Sector

Tighter guidelines around working at heights in New Zealand is estimated to have resulted in 90 fewer deaths and severe injuries a year and will save the New Zealand economy $1.13 billion over the next 25 years, according to new research.

The independent study, commissioned by industry body Scaffolding, Access and Rigging New Zealand (SARNZ), found stricter guidelines for those working at height in the residential building sector has reduced total accidents by 3.7 per cent.

The stronger guidelines, which mean improved protection such as scaffolding, safety nets and edge protection for employees, will generate $1.13 billion in total benefits over 25 years thanks to improved productivity, reduced sick leave and lower healthcare costs, compared with costs through increased work safety requirements of around $1.07 billion.

The guidelines, developed by Worksafe, the Specialist Trade Contractors Federation, the Construction Safety Council and Site Safe, were designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by falls from heights such as from ladders and roofs.

Although the research by BRANZ showed the Working at Heights programme may mean additional costs on firms of $79 million per year, or $1,555 per project, there was also a small net gain in productivity of 0.8 per cent or $42.9 million every year across the residential sector.

Graham Burke, spokesman for SARNZ, said: “This research shows the value of stronger guidelines for working from heights. It clearly demonstrates there is a net benefit to the industry and the country from introducing better safety systems.

“While the study found introducing additional safety systems could add $697 for a project involving additions or alterations, $3,304 to the build cost of a 200 square metre single storey build and $2,300 to a double storey build, it also shows for the first time that the benefits outweigh the costs. If builders can lift productivity and at the same time ensure compliance, the benefits can even increase.”

“If firms take a holistic approach, using safety systems to enhance productivity, as part of the overall management of a project, the potential benefits are huge.”

Jeremy Sole, interim chair of the Construction Safety Council, said: “We welcome this important research, however the reality is that this is only the tip of the ice-berg. There are likely to have been many more falls from height that have not been reported and therefore not subject to an investigation. The number of injuries in this area is likely to be far larger.

“The type of injuries from falling from a height also tend to be severe. Long-bone fractures tend to be have high associated medical costs, high personal disability impacts and long recovery times, all of which make them a major negative impact on an economy.”

The research found that the Working at Heights (WAH) programme is estimated to reduce the number of annual fatalities and permanent disabilities by 22, severe injuries by 68 and non-severe injuries by almost 500.

BRANZ researchers recommended that the study be repeated in two years once more data is available.

According to ACC, there are an average 24,000 recorded injuries in the construction sector every year.

The study, commissioned to investigate the costs and benefits of the Working at Heights programme, will be officially launched at the SARNZ conference on 31st July.


Notes to editor

Stricter WAH guidelines were introduced in 2011 and Best Practice Guidelines were introduced in 2012. Setting the standard for working at height across the country, BPG for Working at Height include minimum requirements for safe working practices in areas such as roofing, construction and maintenance.

For further details, contact Graham Burke 021 249 3459

SARNZ represents 100 companies providing scaffolding, rigging and access services to construction and industrial sectors.

The CSC represents those responsible for complying with health and safety in the construction sector including Registered Master Builders Federation, the Certified Builders Association of NZ, the Specialist Trade Contractors Federation, Roading NZ and the Contractors Federation.

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