Date PostedMay 16, 2012

Construction Safety: Basic Responsibilities of Employers

As an employer you have a responsibility to workers and contractors to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Due to the high risk involved with construction work employers need to be especially vigilant to ensure workplace safety procedures are put in place and enforced.

Employers need to make sure workers have adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to work in a safe and healthy manner on a construction site. Employers also need to ensure risks are managed and inexperienced employees are sufficiently supervised in order to reduce the risk involved with construction work.

construction safety white card

The basic duties of employers to ensure safety on the construction site are:

Control risk

As an employer you have to identify risks in order to manage them. The motto “to be forewarned is to be forearmed is especially relevant here, because by identifying risks, you can plan the appropriate procedures to manage these risks and reduce the hazards associated with them.

Construction work in general involves a multitude of potential risks, but each job involves its own risks and these need to be dealt with individually.

If you are not able to eliminate risk, you need to attempt to minimise it. This can be done by:

-        Substituting the hazard with a less dangerous activity. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, it should be isolated from people. Warning signs are particularly useful in identifying areas that workers should be wary of. Fencing is also required to guard certain hazards, such as heavy machinery, forklift operation areas etc.

-        Employers also need to provide protection for employees in the form of personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is any clothing, equipment or substance designed to protect a person from risks of injury or illness. These include ear muffs, ear plugs, goggles, safety helmets, hats, gloves, safety boots etc.

-        As an employer you will also need to review risk controls regularly and keep a record each time it is reviewed.

-        Employees can be helpful in identifying risks as they have first hand experience of potential hazards. Health and safety representatives should also be consulted when identifying hazards and developing control measures.

Prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

Employers have a responsibility to prepare a SWMS prior to high-risk construction. You also have the responsibility of ensuring that employees and contractors comply with the instructions in the SWMS. The SWMS needs to be reviewed if things on site change. SWMS are developed for activities undertaken by workers onsite which identify the hazards associated with a work activity. SWMS assess the risk of these hazards and outline the preventative measures to be implemented.

It is essential for employees to be involved in the planning and development of the SWMS as it is the primary source of documented OHS guidance for them.

An SWMS is a document that lists the types of high-risk construction work being done, states the health and safety hazards and risks, describes how the risks will be controlled and describes how the risk control measures will be put in place.

Provide Site-specific training

Employees need to be instructed on site specific safety measures and procedures, through a site induction. This will vary depending on the site and its unique circumstances, familiarising workers with OHS rules of the site. Information contained in the SWMS include emergency procedures, identification of health and safety representatives etc.

Provide induction training

The most crucial responsibility of employers is to ensure workers receive the proper construction induction training.

Workers need to have completed their white card induction training before they can work on a construction site in Australia.

By following this step employers can drastically enhance safety on their sites as this course will equip workers with all the necessary safety knowledge, safe working procedures and hazard identification and reaction methods associated with construction work. White card training is affordable and easily attainable online and could mean the difference between life and death on a construction site.

Construction induction training aims to provide construction workers with knowledge and understanding of their rights and responsibilities, common risks and hazards associated with the construction industry, basic risk management procedures and expected behaviour for workers in an emergency situation. Employers must ensure that anyone employed to do construction work has completed the construction induction training before they start work, including apprentices, contractors and regular employees.

Posted by Steven Asnicar

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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