New guidelines published to reduce workplace falls

Issue 38 – May 2012

Labour Minister Hon Kate Wilkinson has told the construction industry there's no longer any excuse for failure to work safely at height. The Minister launched the Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand on 19 April 2012.

'These guidelines give everyone in the industry clear, simple advice that will help bring down the death and injury toll from avoidable falls in the construction industry.

'Falls while working at height cost this country an estimated $24 million every year. When you add in the toll on families, colleagues and the community, the situation is simply unsustainable.

The Minister says it is important that all firms invest in safe work practices.

'Businesses need to appreciate the importance of workplace safety not just from the perspective of the human cost – but also for the benefits to productivity.

'Studies have shown that organisations that lead the way in health and safety practices also tend to have better overall business performance.

'Safety is not a trade-off for productivity – the two go hand in hand.'

Department of Labour investigations show that more than 50% of falls in construction while working at height are from less than 3 metres. About 70% of these falls are from ladders and roofs.

Builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters, and decorators are the most likely to fall from height and get seriously hurt while they are working.

The Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand:

  • have been developed by the Department of Labour in association with 21 businesses and industry organisations from New Zealand's construction sector
  • are the first in a series of safety guides that will be published as part of the Department of Labour's 'Preventing Falls from Height' campaign. The campaign is focused on raising awareness about working safely at height through engagement, education, and enforcement. The Best Practice Guidelines for Working on Roofs are due for completion in the next month or so.

Summarised from a New Zealand Government media release, 19 April 2012.


Published in building.