Investigations underway after Queensland worker’s fatal skylight fall

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Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating an incident in which a worker died after he fell five metres onto a concrete floor. Early investigations indicate the worker was attending to a radio tower on the roof of a storage shed when a skylight collapsed and he fell through to the floor below.  The incident happened last month, according to the safety watchdog.

According to WHSQ figures, there are more than 3200 accepted workers’ compensation claims involving a worker falling from a height every year.  Fifty-four per cent of these claims are a serious injury with five or more days off work, and three are for a fatality.

The safety agency says since 2012, it has issued 2153 prohibition notices, 1832 improvement notices and 47 infringement notices for issues pertaining to falls from heights or the risk of working at heights.

According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, this incident highlights the risk of working on or near fragile roof surfaces. Roofs are likely to be fragile if they are made with:

  • asbestos roofing sheets
  • polycarbonate or plastic commonly used in skylights
  • roof lights, particularly those in the roof plane that can be difficult to see in certain light conditions or when hidden by paint
  • fibre cement sheets
  • liner panels on built-up sheeted roofs
  • metal sheets and fasteners where corroded
  • glass, including wired glass
  • chipboard or similar material where rotted
  • wood slabs, slates, and tiles.

Processes must be in place to identify all fragile materials before any roof work commences. Provide protection if there is a risk of falling through the roof and work is being done on the top of the roof.

For more information on managing the risk of falls at workplaces, download the WHSQ Code of Practice PDF.

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