WorkCover NSW is urging all businesses and workers to take extreme care while using excavators following two serious incidents in the past two months.

On 6 February 2012 a 31-year-old labourer was fatally injured at a demolition site in Airds. A second incident occurred yesterday, 22 March 2012, at Edmondson Park fatally injuring a 17-year-old apprentice plumber.

WorkCover’s General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division John Watson said WorkCover is committed to working with employers and workers to reducing the risks in the state’s most high-risk industries.

“Incidents involving excavators are avoidable and constant attention must be paid when working with and around them,” Mr Watson said.

“WorkCover recently launched the ‘Here to Help’ campaign which informs businesses of the range of free advisory services and guidance material available to them, as well as the dedicated claims assistance service and an award-winning Customer Information Centre.

“These tragic incidents also demonstrate why the demolition and construction sectors are being focussed on as part of WorkCover’s 10/5/5 Program, which targets the top 10 highest risk industries, and the top five injuries and illnesses in those industries.”

Mr Watson said there were a number of actions businesses and workers could take to improve safety when working on and around excavators.
• Excavator operators need to know how to operate the specific quick hitch on the excavator they use, whether it is automatically secured or by manually inserting a pin.
• Quick hitches should be maintained and in proper working order. Ensure people are not exposed to risks by establishing an exclusion zone when the excavator is in use

“I urge everyone to seek advice directly from WorkCover and to take advantage of the range of services on offer,” Mr Watson said.

“We want all workers to return home safely to their families at the end of the working day.

WorkCover recently published a safety alert on working with excavators. The safety alert and other information on the Here to Help campaign safety can be found on the WorkCover website. Visit www.workcover.nsw.gov.au or call 13 10 50 for more information.