Precast concrete safety audit to better protect industry

Released 13/08/2019

From today, WorkSafe ACT will begin an audit and education program within the construction industry to identify current levels of compliance in safety operations and practices when using precast concrete panels.

Quick facts:

  • The audit is a response to a number of incidents that occurred across Canberra in early 2019 involving the collapse of precast concrete panels due to inappropriate installation.
  • From today, WorkSafe ACT inspectors will commence an audit across Canberra worksites to determine industry safety performance. The range of sites visited will include commercial and residential, as well as a range of small, medium and large sized operations.
  • WorkSafe ACT inspectors will check on compliance as well as providing education and advice to workers and site managers on the risks to health and safety during the installation and final prop removal stages.
  • Precast concrete panels are a high-risk activity and can only be manufactured, transported, erected and altered by a qualified person as defined under Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
  • The collapse of any concrete panel, even a small one, can have catastrophic consequences for workers and the public.
  • Outcomes from the audit and education program will ensure future safety operations and practices for using precast concrete panels are informed by evidence and best practice.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Rachel Stephen-Smith:

"The ACT Government is committed to the health and safety of working Canberrans. We want to ensure that those working in the construction industry have access to a safe working environment especially when using precast concrete panels.

"The audit will focus on and identify current levels of compliance for safety when using precast concrete panels. WorkSafe ACT inspectors will also provide advice to workers and site managers on the health and safety risks involved to themselves, their colleagues and the public.

"It's important that workplace management understand the legal obligations they have when their employees engage in high-risk work.

"Outcomes from the audit will assist in the development of future engagement activities and audit processes. A final report will be made available on completion of the audit, allowing industry to proactively improve their safe work practices when using precast concrete panels.

Quotes attributable to ACT Work Safety Commission, Greg Jones:

"Precast concrete panels are becoming more popular in the construction of both commercial and residential buildings due to the speed and efficiency of their installation.

"However, they also come with increased risk if not handled correctly."

"The most common issue associated with the use of precast panels is the collapse of the panel during or after their installation. This is usually as a result of workers not being suitably qualified or licensed to undertake the work or failure to follow site specific Safe Work Method Statements.

"From today, WorkSafe ACT inspectors will commence an audit on a range of ACT worksites assessing all precast panel installation documentation and records as well as conducting a physical assessment of the panel, and where possible, its installation.

"The extent of the audit will be driven by the level of compliance found with the first 15 or so site visits.

"WorkSafe ACT are confident that the audit program will promote and ensure the ongoing development of safe work practices when using precast concrete panels.

- Statement ends -

Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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