The minister responsible for safety and workplace regulation in New South Wales has blasted the state’s construction sector for a large number of safety breaches regarding scaffolding.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Andrews says construction sites around New South Wales will be subject to a second scaffolding safety blitz after a recent round of inspections uncovered more than 800 safety breaches over a three-month period.

The new inspection program will run from 16 September until 1 December, and will have a focus roofs, voids and edges.

The new program comes after the damning results of the Scaff Safe 2020 campaign which ran from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

The audit found that:

  • From the 709 construction sites which were visited, a total of 838 notices were issued for breaches uncovered – an average of more than one breach for each site visited.
  • Of the 838 notices issued for breaches included 26 penalty notices, 232 prohibition notices and 580 improvement notices – 500 of which related to falling from heights.
  • 42 percent of scaffolds inspected had missing parts.
  • On 22 percent of sites, it appeared that unlicensed workers had altered or removed scaffolding components.
  • All up, 49 percent of construction sites visited in Metropolitan Sydney were found to be non-compliant, as were 34 percent of regional sites.

Anderson said the results are serious.

Throughout New South Wales, he says three people have died and 25 have been injured so far this year on account of falling from a height.

“We will not tolerate poor safety and workers lives being placed at risk on our worksites, and from today we are kicking off a new three-month blitz, focusing on these risks,” he said.

“The sites we’ve identified can expect another visit very soon.”

According to Anderson, the notices are the first step in a process which could see non-compliant businesses face heavy fines or up to five years in prison under recent amendments to the state’s work health and safety act.

He encourages anyone who spots anything risky on work sites to speak up anonymously via SAFEWork’s speak up app or via the web site.

“NSW is proud to be leading the way with the strongest work health and safety legislation in the country, and we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who disregards the safety of others,” Anderson said.

“Everyone should feel safe doing their job. If you spot anything risky, play your part in protecting your own safety as well as that of your work mates by immediately reporting it to SafeWork.”