Several years ago while visiting a local council with an OHS mentor, a call came through that a worker had fallen over 10 metres through a skylight into a plant room at a commercial swimming pool. It was the first time I had been on site shortly after a workplace incident and was party to the negotiations and advice between OHS advisers, health & safety representatives and quickly after the event, the CEO.
I am reminded of that day too often when reports come through of workplace falls and deaths. Workplace incidents do not take a holiday even during Safe Work Australia Week and this year was no different. Below are a couple of short reports of incidents from last week. As they did not result in a death, they were unlikely to be reported in the mainstream press.
“A man has fallen through a warehouse roof, dropping eight metres onto concrete at Brunswick [on 30 October 2009].
‘The 24 year old man landed on the concrete and some bicycles that were on the floor,’ according to Intensive care paramedic Kate Cantwell. ‘Even though he had fallen about eight metres, he is extremely lucky that he landed on his arm and side, and not on his head. He has quite a severe fracture to his arm, and possibly a fractured pelvis.”
“A 62-year-old man fell nearly three metres to the ground when he slipped off a ladder in Heidelberg Heights [on 26 October 2009]. Advanced life support paramedics from Oak Park and Epping were called to the residential building site at 11.05am.
Paramedic Haley McCartin said they arrived within eight minutes to find the man lying on the ground in a significant amount of pain. ‘He suffered a suspected fractured hip and wrist,’ she said.”
Both these cases were posted by the Ambulance Service in Victoria and reinforce that falls in workplaces continue to occur. Not all falls cause death but falls invariably result in serious injuries.
It is fair to say that gravity continues to be the number one contributory factor to workplace falls.