A string of serious workplace injuries involving heights across New South Wales has prompted the state's employee safety watchdog to issue a reminder on falling hazards.
WorkCover NSW has asked staff members and managers to be mindful of the dangers involved when working at heights.
Speaking on the decision to release the industry reminder, general manager of the department's Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, explained that three serious accidents had resulted in the deaths of workers, while a fourth remained in a critical condition.
Mr Watson asserted: "Working from heights can be dangerous and, as these incidents show, a fall can result in serious injury or death.
"These risks are highlighted by WorkCover data that indicates 2009/10 5,745 workers were injured in a fall from heights at a cost of more than $72 million."
These figures quoted by Mr Watson include the expense of lost business, compensation expenses and legal costs, but do not take into account the personal pain and suffering of the victims and their families.
The general manager went on to remind managers and employers that work safety laws required them to have adequate "safety systems" installed to prevent high falls from occurring.
In addition, enterprises need to give their employees the right level of training and instruction to be able to operate from a height, while at the same time providing additional supervision and information as the work requires.
Mr Watson also took the opportunity to remind staff members involved in lofty operations of their obligations to their employers, managers and colleagues in taking action on or reporting unsafe scenarios.
"Workers are required to follow the procedures set out by the business who must provide a safe workplace by identifying foreseeable hazards, assessing risks and taking action to eliminate or control those risks," said Mr Watson.
On top of this, simple measures such as ensuring safe access to clear walkways, sturdy barriers over open edges and using helmets and harnesses were suggested.
Even the obvious task of checking the work area for stability could help reduce hazards – if overlooked, a shifting base or scaffold could cause a fall or collapse which could result in harm.
While personal injury lawyers can provide superior access to compensation funds in the event of an accident, it is still a far better option to avoid the risk of an accident occurring in the first place.