Construction workers seriously injured in spate of falls

WorkSafe Victoria is reminding employers of the risks associated with working from heights after a spate of serious injuries in the construction industry.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

On 26 July, an apprentice electrician fell while loading solar panels onto a roof at a domestic premises in Coburg, sustaining a broken ankle, wrist and eye socket. 

The next day, a plumber fell more than two metres at a housing construction site in Frankston, leaving them with serious head and back injuries. 

Then, on 28 July, a worker was taken to hospital with a cut to the head after falling about four metres from a ladder at a Broadmeadows construction site.

Since 2018, WorkSafe has accepted 6340 claims from workers injured in falls from height, with construction workers accounting for almost one third (29 per cent) of these claims.

More than half of the claims from the construction industry (52 per cent) were falls from ladders, scaffolding, mobile platforms or mobile stairs.

Falls from height are also one of the leading causes of workplace deaths in the construction industry, with 14 fatal incidents since 2018.

In February, a 69-year-old worker died after falling from a height of about five metres at a construction site in Cheltenham.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer stressed that every injury and death caused by falls is preventable if the right steps are taken to eliminate or reduce risks.

“This terrible sequence of incidents – three falls in three days – highlights the very real risks of working from heights,” Dr Beer said.

“It is every employer’s duty to ensure measures are in place to control these risks, such as a passive fall prevention device and a fall arrest system.”

WorkSafe can and will take action against employers who fail to ensure their workers are properly trained and appropriate safety measures are in place.

So far in 2022, fines totalling $489,000 have been imposed against construction companies and directors in 12 WorkSafe prosecutions for failing to protect workers from the dangers of working from height.

WorkSafe supports employers in maintaining safe workplaces through site visits and guidance, with further support available through the free and confidential OHS Essentials program.

To prevent falls from height employers should:

  • Eliminate the risk by, where practicable, doing all or some of the work on the ground or from a solid construction.
  • Use a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, perimeter screens, guardrails, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.
  • Use a positioning system, such as a travel-restraint system, to ensure employees work within a safe area.
  • Use a fall arrest system, such as a harness, catch platform or safety nets, to limit the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Use a fixed or portable ladder, or implement administrative controls.

Managing Psychological Hazards at Work.

Course: Safe Work Australia

New model WHS Regulations and Code of Practice to help prevent psychological harm at work.

Preventing psychological harm is an essential part of creating a healthy and safe workplace.

The model work health and safety (WHS) laws now include regulations on psychosocial hazards. A new model Code of Practice on Managing psychosocial hazards at work explains the laws and how to comply with them, including practical steps to manage workplace risks to psychological health.  

Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter said that “under work health and safety laws, PCBUs have a positive duty to do everything they reasonably can to prevent exposure to psychosocial hazards and risks.

“Psychosocial hazards are anything at work that may cause psychological harm. 

“They can come from the way work is designed and managed, the working environment, or behaviours including bullying, harassment, discrimination, aggression and violence.”

Ms Baxter said work-related psychological injuries and illness have a significant negative impact on workers, their families and business. 

“On average, work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work when compared with physical injuries.

“Workers’ compensation claims for psychological injury and illness have increased and impose high costs to employers through time off and workers’ compensation costs.

“Managing psychosocial risks protects workers, decreases staff turnover and absenteeism, and may improve broader organisational performance and productivity.”

The model WHS Regulations and Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work were developed through Safe Work Australia’s tripartite process which includes Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and employer and worker representatives. 

The model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work is available on the Safe Work Australia website along with other materials including new model WHS Regulations to support PCBUs to meet their WHS duties.


Safe Work Australia is an Australian government statutory agency. We develop national policy to improve WHS and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. 

As a national policy body, we do not regulate WHS laws or administer workers’ compensation arrangements. The Commonwealth, states and territories regulate and enforce WHS laws and administer workers’ compensation schemes in their jurisdictions. 

The model WHS Regulations and model Code of Practice do not automatically apply in a jurisdiction. Find information on WHS in your jurisdiction by contacting your WHS regulator.

Mental health support 

As well as resources to help you manage psychosocial risks there are also services to help if you, your family, friend or colleague are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious.