Following heavy rains and flooding across the Australian Capital Territory and other East Australian states, regulators urged businesses engaged in construction work to be cautious and conduct safety checks before recommencing work.
Given the likelihood of continued rain over the coming weeks, ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said workers need to ensure the safety and integrity of construction sites before continuing work.
He warned that businesses engaged in construction work involving trenching or excavation work to be particularly vigilant given the risks adverse weather can have on workplace safety.
Soil profiles and the structural stability of existing live excavations and trenches may have been severely compromised as a result of the heavy rainfall, and he said principal contractors should consider obtaining a Geo-Tech report on soil condition and stability before recommencing work.
“It is crucial that workers do not enter trenches or excavations deeper than 1.5 metres until the builder has ensured it is safe,” said McCabe.
“The safety of workers is paramount and a Geo-Tech report is one way of ensuring that workers are kept safe.”
He also warned that the structural stability of any scaffolding systems currently erected on construction sites may also be compromised given the recent weather, as heavy rainfall can undermine the scaffolding base plates and sole boards.
Principal contractors on construction sites where scaffolding is erected should consider seeking an inspection of scaffolding foundations by a licensed scaffolder to ensure they are structurally safe to be used.
“Workers should not access scaffolds where it is evident that sole boards or base plates have been undermined due to soil erosion,” he said.
“The foundations should be inspected first by a professional before the scaffolding is accessed again.”