Construction Induction Card- How Do I Get One?

WorkSafe Red Card, are they still valid?

According to WorkSafe the construction industry in Victoria is one of the largest, employing approximately 225,000 workers and growing.  This is an industry that is expanding each year requiring new and inexperienced workers to undergo general construction site safety training in order to gain access to work a construction site.

Due to the fact that this is a growing industry, wrought with high risk activities, construction safety training is crucial. Each week 50 workers are injured on building sites across the state, which is why the government has introduced the new, national white card to replace the previous Victorian Red Card which was mandatory for work on Victorian construction sites. The new requirement for work on any construction site in Australia is the completion of the white card course.

Many incidents occur because construction site safety is not sufficient and workers are not suitably trained. In order to avoid incidents like head trauma, broken appendages, back injury etc. workers must undergo construction site induction training in the form of a white card.

Thankfully the white card is available online. So all that is needed to complete the course is a computer and an internet connection. It is presented in the form of an easy to understand, interactive assessment that enables workers to complete the training at their convenience.

In addition to the general construction induction training, employers must also ensure that workers undergo site specific induction. By conducting an assessment of the site and the possible hazards, employers should work together with employees to develop safety procedures for the site. Site specific training will entail training workers on these procedures.

All workers performing construction work require proof that they have completed a general construction induction course for the industry in the form of a White Card which replaced the original Red Card. The course can be completed through a registered training organisation. Only once the course has been completed and the white card issued can the worker be allowed entry onto a construction site to work.

How do I get it?

It is simple to complete your White Card course because it can be conducted online, when and where it is convenient for you. What’s more is that our white card is accepted in all states, so you are not restricted to work only in Victoria, if you move your white will be valid in any state. All that is needed is a computer and an internet connection in order to access the course material. An easy assessment is done online and once completed you are issued with a certificate of completion/statement of achievement which will enable you to receive the white card. All instructions are available online at www.whitecardonline.com.au

Although red cards issued previously will still be valid, workers who wish to obtain the construction site safety training now can do so through the online white card course. In order to obtain more information on the Red Card and new White Card, visit WorkSafe Victoria’s website: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/safety-and-prevention/your-industry/construction/how-to-comply/induction-training

 

Red Card Victoria: How to Avoid Safety Hazards on Building Sites

(Photo: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Red Card Victoria has now been replaced with a more convenient, national “White Card” which is essential for acceptance on any construction site in Oz. The “Work Safely in the Construction Industry “course is aimed at equipping all workers in the building industry with the knowledge and skill to overcome potentially life threatening situations on site.

While the easy to follow course provides a detailed teaching on the many dangers that may present themselves on site, there are a few basic hazards that are common to a lot of construction sites that are worth a special mention.

Before proceeding with any work on a construction site the contractor or employer should investigate the potential hazards in order to know what they must overcome. Some of these hazards may include overhead power lines, unstable ground, hazardous material, work from heights etc. These hazards may be common to all construction sites or unique to the site.

For example some sites where renovation is being undertaken, there may be a contamination of asbestos or there may be a need to work with cranes and over-head power lines may present a hazard. Whatever the safety issue may be, construction safety training will teach workers how to react in these situations in order to avoid tragedy.

Another way to remain safe is to continuously assess tools and equipment and evaluate whether they may present a hazard from day to day. Wear and tear on equipment can make them less effective and even dangerous. For example electric tools and cords should be examined for exposed wires and they should not emit any sparks when in operation. Do not use a tool or equipment that feels unsafe or does not seem to be working properly. If tools or equipment are not working properly it should be reported immediately.  Workers should be properly trained on equipment and tool use before they are given these objects to work with.

Another requirement on a construction site is the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Not only do employers have to provide PPE to workers and train them on its use, they also need to ensure PPE are in good order. The white card induction training incorporates PPE and its effective use in various threatening construction situations.  Some of the PPE that are general to construction sites are hard hats, safety glasses, dust masks, gloves, ear plugs and the proper clothing like thick-soled construction boots. For night work or work in the dark, the correct luminous clothing should be worn. Workers have the responsibility to stick to safety procedures as outlined by their employer’s health and safety policies, including when, where and how to use PPE effectively.

Another common hazard on construction sites are working from heights. Work from ladders, roofs, scaffolds all present a risk which needs to be managed for example by using the proper fall protection. The white card course will outline all you need to know about falling on site in general and the site specific training you receive from your employer will explain the exact hazards you will be exposed to on the site. Workers have a responsibility to adhere to both the lessons taught by the general white card course (which replaced the Red card) as well as the site specific lessons learned.

The most important requirement on all building sites is that all workers are sufficiently trained. Both site specific and general construction induction training is required for every worker. The good news is that workers can now obtain their general construction site training online, which makes it both easy and convenient. It can be done from the privacy of your home or office and is valid nationally. This is a pre requisite to entrance as a worker on any construction site in Australia and has replaced the old Red Card Victoria for this purpose.

 

How to Prevent Falling through a Roof in construction

Falling is a serious hazard on construction sites with falls from heights accounting for most of the construction site safety incidents in Oz. Falls from ladders, roofs, skylights, scaffolds etc. all occur frequently on construction sites, but so do falls through roofs. Often a worker’s task involves cutting holes in the roof for ventilation ducts, heating ducts etc. Sometimes workers fall through these openings in the roof, causing serious injury and very often death.

There are some ways workers can guard against these falls. Workers should ensure that materials used to cover openings are available before the openings are made. The covers for openings must be strong enough to withstand the weight of workers and any equipment that might pass over them.

After cutting an opening in a roof or floor workers should cover it immediately and leave it unattended as this leave other students vulnerable to a fall. Also workers must ensure that the cover is securely and correctly put in place in such a way that it cannot be moved inadvertently.

Also workers should mark the cover to indicate where the opening is and to warn other workers to prevent them falling through. Guard rails should be erected if the opening cannot be covered.

If workers adhere to these rules, they can substantially reduce the risk of falling through roof openings.

 

Construction workers at Risk of Respiratory Disease

Many construction workers are aware of the dangers that asbestos and other chemicals present to them, but not many are aware of the danger of inhaling silica dust, a dangerous element of construction work that can cause Respiratory Disease.

Some workers even risk their health by failing to wear PPE, to protect them from inhaling potentially deadly particles. These workers are placing themselves at risk of developing silicosis, a lung disease caused by silica dust collecting on the lungs. Silica can also cause permanent damage to the lungs and heart.

Silica dust is released from processes in building where sand, rocks, sandstone and granite are used.  Many employers are unaware that common building products such as clay bricks, concrete, tiles and fibro cement products contain silica as well. Silica dust is usually created when such building products, sandstone or rocks are cut, drilled or worked on in a way that creates fine particles of silica in the air. It is breathing in this crystalline form of silica that causes silicosis.

In order to avoid developing this disease, ensure you use a water hose to wet dust down at the point of dust generation.  Employers can also encourage good work practices to minimise exposures to nearby workers or even the public in the vicinity.

 

Guidelines to Reducing Chemical Burns

Photo: Mark Griffiths

Chemical burns are a hazard that can occur in a number of industries and affect a number of workers. That is why it is critical that workers be trained on the correct procedure for handling chemicals as well as what to do in the case of an incident. Training on how to work safely with chemicals in order to avoid burns should be provided for all workers, not only those directly in contact with chemicals but all those on site.

There a few practical guidelines that should be followed in order to reduce the likelihood of a chemical burn however workers also need to be trained in the correct emergency procedures should these guidelines fail to prevent exposure.

  1. Those in control of the site should first determine whether chemical use is absolutely necessary. Can the hazard be replaced by something less hazardous? If not ensure workers are properly trained on how to handle the hazardous material.
  2. Workers should also be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and trained on its correct use. Workers should ensure that PPE are always worn when handling the chemicals and the company’s safety procedures are always followed.
  3. Workers should make sure they read all labels and materials safety data sheets that accompany chemicals for their own safety.
  4. Chemicals should be kept away from the access of untrained or inexperienced workers and should be locked away. Warning signs should be posted around these areas.
  5. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) from the chemical supplier for all hazardous substances at the workplace should be used and place in a folder with a list of chemicals used and stored in the workplace. Make the MSDS and risk assessments available to workers who use the chemicals at all times so they can refer to them when in doubt.
  6. Emergency numbers should be posted around the workplace and in easy access to workers. The numbers posted should include poison information numbers and should be kept next to the phone.
  7. Only use chemicals in a well-ventilated area.

In the event that workers cannot avoid a burn they should know how to react in an emergency. Employers should train all employees in chemical burn first aid because this will help combat the fatalities due to misuse of chemicals.

  • As soon as a chemical burn occurs, remove all the contaminated clothing immediately to prevent becoming injured further.
  • Wash the affected area with a saline solution to wash away excess chemicals.
  • Should the chemical enter the eye area, the worker should rinse the eye area immediately until they are able to get medical attention.
  • The affected worker should seek immediate medical attention
  • Cover the affected area with a bandage to prevent dirt from entering the wound.

Watch out for symptoms of chemical burns such as chest pains, seizures, dizziness, coughing headaches, numbness, irritated skin, shortness of breath and in extreme cases a heart attack may result.

If workers, supervisors, employers and contractors ensure the proper safety procedures are in place and being followed, the workplace will be a much safer place.

There are occasions when despite following all the right procedures, accidents still happen. In this instance workers should remember their emergency response training by staying calm and raising the alarm. Warn other workers of the hazard to prevent its harm spreading. Then get help, inform supervisors, WH&S representative, first aid worker and then fellow workers. Also ensure emergency services are called if the incident is serious.

 

Guarding Failure Inexcusable

It seems that many companies are still not adhering to workplace health and safety regulations with regards to implementing appropriate guarding for potential hazardous machinery on site. Not long ago we heard of the earthworks company who left an inexperienced worker to operate earthmoving machinery which did not have proper machine guards in place. This led to the workers hand being caught in a hydraulic conveyor causing it to be amputated. The incident was shocking and tragic and businesses need to learn their lesson from the mistakes of this negligent company because while the company had to pay hefty fines, the worker paid the real cost as he will have to go through life with only one hand.

There are a plethora of machinery and equipment on construction sites that are extremely dangerous if operated by someone who has not been trained, even with the appropriate guarding in place. But without the guarding the risks are even greater.

These risks must either be eliminated or reduced. In most instances it is not possible to eliminate the hazard, because the machinery is vital to the task involved. In this case employers must reduce the risk involved with hazard as much as possible and this can be done by installing appropriate guarding in order to prevent access of workers or their extremities to the machine’s dangerous parts.

Some employers incorrectly believe that guarding will interfere with the machines operation however this is not the case. Guarding need not be elaborate or interfere with productivity at all.

Employers should look at the safety characteristics of machines when purchasing new equipment. The best policy is to get the supplier or manufacturer to fit the guards themselves.

Identifying the potential injuries that may occur, like lacerations or crushed fingers caused through inadequate machine guarding. By identifying the hazards first, employers and workers can develop a plan to overcome these hazards.

In terms of dangerous machinery on construction sites the risks involved are caused by tools and dies, flywheels and gear wheels, guillotine blades, shafts and spindles, milling cutters, circular saws and many others. Parts of the machine that are particularly dangerous are shear points, cutting areas, stabbing points, abrasion areas, flying particles, any protrusions and crushing areas.

Some of the hazards that can be controlled by fitment of machine guarding equipment are:

  • By fitting guarding to machinery employees arms or legs can be saved from coming into contact with or being entangled in machinery
  • Can shield the worker from the release of potential energy
  • It can prevent a worker being trapped between the machine and material or a fixed structure
  • Guarding can prevent a part of a workers body coming into contact with material in motion
  • Prevent a worker being struck by ejected parts of machinery or by material ejected from machine

Employers should conduct a separate risk assessment for each machine on site and any associated system of work used with that machine and consult workers to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing control measures such as machine guarding.

If an employer has determined that a hazard cannot be eliminated or replaced with a less hazardous option, the next preferred measure is to use an engineering control such guarding, using enclosures or even automating a process.

Where engineering controls cannot fully control a health and safety risk, administration controls should be used.  This includes introducing work practices that reduce risk and limit employee exposure. These may include training employees in correct and safe operation, developing Safe Operating Procedures, reducing the number of employees exposed to the hazard, reducing the period of employee exposure, developing and implementing lock-out procedures or displaying the appropriate signs to warn workers.

(Photo: adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Once all other control measures ( both engineering and administrative) have been put in place, only then should Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be introduced. PPE should be seen as an additional precaution but not the only control.  Efforts to remove health and safety risks using elimination, engineering as well as administration controls should be fully explored before introducing PPE. Some of the personal protective equipment that can be implemented are safety glasses to protect the eyes and hard hats to protect their heads. These should be provided free of charge for workers and they should be trained on the correct use.

 

 

The Danger of Crushing Hazards in Construction

(Photo: njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Crushing is probably one of the most common formsof injury sustained by pedestrians on a construction site.  However a crush injury can occur whenever the workers body is caught between 2 heavy objects. Some of the most brutal crushing injuries occur when a worker is hit by a falling object, such as a cranes load. These loads are usually heavy materials such as steel, cement blocks etc. which are too heavy to manually transport. This is a common form of injury which needs to be addressed. With a little attention, employers can get together with workers to weigh the risk involved with the hazard and determine ways to eliminate or manage the hazard.

There is also machinery on site that can cause a crushing hazard. This is especially true when appropriate guarding is not in place. Sometimes workers may flout the rules and take shortcuts, leading to them being crushed by parts of a machine or a machine may become jammed and workers will remove the guard in an attempt to fix the machinery, resulting in the crushing of some part of their body.

Another concern associated with machinery is when machine guarding is not in place or damaged, leading to the worker being exposed to the dangerous parts of the machine. Also if workers do not obey the safety rules as specified it is easy for them to get pulled into the machines movable parts resulting in crushing. Part of workers training should entail the appropriate PPE to wear and teach workers to avoid loose, flowing clothing which could get caught in the machine’s parts and cause an injury.

Construction site vehicles, including forklifts, graders, bulldozers, payloaders, steamrollers and earth movers, can also cause crush injuries. Workers can get run over or pinned by heavy equipment on the site. Forklift accidents are another source of crush injuries. A load from a forklift can crush someone working near it. Forklift operators have become renowned for crushing injuries caused by tip overs. Trenches and excavations pose a threat of crush injuries as well. A cave-in or trench collapse can bury workers alive. The weight of the soil, rocks and other material can cause crush injuries.

Workers can also be crushed by heavy equipment and vehicles on a site because it is such a busy and noisy environment that workers may not hear the approaching vehicle. Pedestrian walkways must be clearly marked. Installing physical barriers ensures workstations are separated from vehicle travel areas. There have been many incidents when workers were crushed between a vehicle and another object and sustained crushing injuries in the process.

Just having the proper safety procedures in place is not enough, they need to be adhered to and enforced by employers and workers in order to avoid tragic circumstances such as these.

Crushing injuries, like all other construction injuries can be avoided if the proper procedures are followed and workers remain vigilant on site. Avoiding long shifts, taking regular breaks and resting in between strenuous tasks can help workers remain alert and avoid many of the dangers brought about by worker negligence, such as crushing.

 

Construction Workers lose arms to rotating machinery

Photo: The MK Shop

A number of incidents have occurred this year alone that involve workers appendages being caught in the rotating arms of machinery. The most common way this occurs is when workers clothing becomes entangled in the machine and causes the worker s’ arm to become caught.

Identifying the hazards is the first step toward protecting workers from them. Any machinery that rotates presents a hazard regardless of speed of the rotations. Machines that cut, punch, shear and bend are potentially hazardous.

Workers whose job involves working with this or any other dangerous machinery need to be aware of how to operate the machinery without injuring themselves. When working with plant and machinery some workers may not be able to avoid working with rotating components so workers need to be trained and supervised when operating this machinery.

Another important point to remember is that workers should only make use of machinery to do what it has been manufactured to do. Follow the manual when operating the machinery.  Workers who are not trained should not be allowed to operate machinery and unauthorised workers must not be allowed into the vicinity of the dangerous machinery. This is why guarding plays such an important role and guards (and other safety devices) should be tamper proof.

Because entanglement is the main cause of injury from rotating machinery and clothing the main cause of entanglement, workers who operate this machinery should never wear loose, dangling objects of clothing. Long hair should also be kept away from the machine. Also workers should be trained on the correct use of PPE because PPE can play a role in entanglement.

For example wearing gloves when operating rotating machinery is not a good idea but if it cannot be avoided the gloves should fit snuggly and should not present an entanglement hazard.

Machine guards are vitally important in protecting workers from injury. A rotating motion can be dangerous. Even smooth, slowly rotating shafts can grip clothing, and through mere skin contact, force an arm or hand into a dangerous position and result in loss of the appendage.

There are several safety measures that can be introduced to minimise the hazard.

Prevent contact by installing and maintaining machine guards. This safeguard should effectively prevent hands, arms or any other part of a worker’s body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. Often businesses fail to replace broken guards or fail to install them at all and workers’ end up pay the price.

Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard even if they are examining a fault in the machine.  Guards and safety devices should be made of durable materials that will withstand normal use and should be reviewed regularly. If they need to be replaced, they should be done so timeously.

Also the machinery must be protected from falling objects entering the moving parts because this can cause injury for the operator and some operators may attempt to remove the object and be injured in the process.

Even when lubricating and servicing the machinery, the guarding should not be removed or tampered with by the worker. Workers should remember, never endanger yourself in the name of productivity.

 

Biggest Safety Hazards in Construction work

(Photo: njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

There are some hazards that are more common to construction workers than others and some that claim dozens of lives each year. In this post we will look at some of them and how they can be overcome with a bit of planning and dedication to safety on site.

The first step in combatting the inevitable hazards on site is to consider the hazards and the risk they pose to workers. Once it has been established what the risks are then it is possible to identify solutions and implement them.

Almost daily we hear of some or the other construction workers being injured on site and in extreme cases we even hear of their deaths. Workers are faced with these hazards each day and need to be aware of the most common ones and how they cause injuries so that they can avoid becoming a statistic.

The most common cause of death on construction sites is from falling. Working from a height is a dangerous task and should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary. If the risk cannot be eliminated they must be controlled and managed to prevent worker injury. The most basic protection against falls includes, wearing the appropriate PPE and using personal fall arrest equipment. Use of a safety harness can save a worker from death in the event of a fall but only if it is correctly used and properly anchored. Employers and contractors should install and maintain perimeter protection. Workers whose job tasks do not require working from a height should not do so. Also any openings in the floor should be covered and clearly labelled so that workers are aware of it. Ladder and scaffolding safety is also important and workers should be trained on how to safely make use of them.

Another common hazard that occurs in construction is objects falling from a height and hitting workers, sometimes even crushing them. Not long ago a worker’s skull was crushed when an excavator bucket fell onto him from above. Wearing a hard hat is important to protect your head from this and many other hazards. Good housekeeping will also ensure tools, debris and other equipment do not fall and injure workers below.

The second most common cause of death on a construction site is workers being hit by moving vehicles or machinery and sometimes being crushed. Workers should never position themselves between moving and fixed objects as they may be caught in-between the two and crushed. Workers must be provided with and trained on the correct use of high-visibility clothing to worn near equipment and vehicles. The site planners should attempt to separate pedestrians from the hazard of moving vehicles and equipment and if that is not possible only workers whose skills are necessary in the area should be allowed access. Designated pedestrian and separate vehicle paths should be established and maintained. Training of drivers and operators of machinery is vital in this regard. It is also important that inexperienced workers be supervised until they are capable of avoiding an incident.

Workers also often become injured when they are caught in a trench or excavation.  Workers should never enter an unprotected trench or excavation 5 feet or deeper without the appropriate protective system in place.  Sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems are important because trenches are notoriously unstable and may cave in at any time. Weather conditions such as heavy rain may cause instability of the ground and precautions should be taken in these instances.

The final hazard that we will discuss is the possibility of electrocution in construction. Not only are electricians at risk but ordinary construction workers may also be at risk from exposed wires etc. In order to prevent being electrocuted workers should locate and identify electrical components beforehand, especially when undertaking renovation work. When operating heavy machinery and cranes check for overhead power lines before you begin working and maintain a safe distance from them. When working with electrical tools ensure they are grounded and double insulated to avoid being electrocuted.  Also be extra cautious when working from a ladder or scaffold.

Being more aware of your work environment and cautious will safeguard you from injuring other workers by your actions and ensure that you too return home safely at the end of the day.

 

Attention Construction workers: Dangers of Drug and Alcohol Use on the job

It is no coincidence that research shows a link between drugs and alcohol use and stress. Alcohol and drugs are used as relaxants so it would make sense that workers with highly pressurised or stressful jobs would indulge in drinking and some even drug taking. However drinking on the job is completely different to having a drink after work to unwind. Workers who engage in drinking and drug taking while on duty, seriously endanger the safety of everyone on site and undermine a business’s operational ability.

Drinking and drug taking alters a worker’s mental and physical capabilities which means they are not able to perform at their peak. Workers who believe that they can have a drink or two and it won’t affect them are mistaken, especially in an industry as dangerous as construction. Activities such as welding, operating heavy machinery, working with power tools are all risky when undertaken by a sober individual, however when combined with drugs and alcohol are a deadly combination. Workers who are intoxicated do not operate on the same mental capacity as those who are sober and so jeopardise the health and safety of everyone on site.

Other than slowing the productivity of the site and endangering the lives of workers, drinking and drug taking also increases absenteeism and sick leave. Workers are also more likely to get injured and so increase their compensation claims and cost to the company.

Workers should also keep in mind that alcohol and drugs remain in the system even the next morning, so while you may not think you are still intoxicated, the chemicals could still be in your body the next day from a heavy night of binge drinking. This may affect the way you do your job and may even cause injury, especially if you are still hung-over.

The main effects on your ability to work are: decreased alertness,impaired judgement and lowered productivity. A recent national survey which was conducted in Melbourne showed that construction workers showed some of the highest rates of drinking and drug taking. The survey included approximately 500 labourers, managers and office staff, more than half of which showed a drinking and drug taking level that put their safety at risk.

Particularly concerning is the amount of construction workers who admitted to using ecstasy or amphetamine substances in the past year and the 16 per cent that had used marijuana, showing figures higher than the rest of the population. Sadly the majority of workers involved in the research did not have sufficient knowledge of how drugs and alcohol could affect their physical performance on the job. This suggests that employers need to do more to educate workers and create awareness of the issue. Employers and government should undertake to do more to remove the culture of drinking and drug taking in the construction industry.

This post by MICHELLE Henderson, AAP National Medical Writer, explains what the results mean for construction workers:

“Operating machinery and mobile equipment, the proximity to road traffic, using electrical equipment and operating at heights conspire to accentuate the potential adverse impact of drugs and alcohol in these workplaces,” Prof Biggs said.

“What we need is educational preventative programs, rather than simply dealing with alcohol and other drug use after the fact through testing and dealing with positive results,” he said.

Prof Biggs said a national education program would be developed to combat alcohol and drug use in the construction industry.

The 494 workers surveyed over the two-year project also included engineers and plant operators.

The Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology conducted the study.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/alcohol-use-putting-workers-at-safety-risk/story-e6frf7kf-1226459910908