White Card Update: Head Injuries All Too Common on Construction Sites

Photo : Ell Brown

Construction workers know all too well the dangers that they expose themselves to each day in order to make a living. Many workers in the construction industry go their whole lives without suffering serious injuries however there are also those who frequently sustain serious injuries. The difference between the two is not only the employer’s commitment to safety but also the workers own adherence to safety procedures and regulations.

Sometime injuries on site are as a result of co-workers negligence and these situations highlight the need for employers to instil a culture of safety on site and hold workers liable when the proper safety procedures are not followed.

A motto of “Safety First” should exist on all building sites in order to instil in workers the importance of safety.  Think of the alternative?  Head injuries, burn injuries, severe wounds, spinal cord injuries, traumas, dislocations, blinding injuries and hearing loss are just a few of  the possible outcomes that may threaten workers on a construction site daily. Unlike other professions where injuries are limited to certain parts of the body (for example office workers who are exposed to computers may suffer eye damage), construction workers entire bodies are at risk.  Let’s look at just some of the head injuries that can affect and forever change a construction worker’s life.

Head Injuries

Sadly construction workers heads are at risk from a variety of hazards, falling objects like tools or excavation buckets, workers falling and hitting their heads etc. that is why personal protective equipment is a legal requirement and must be provided by employers at no cost. Workers have a responsibility to wear a hard hat at all times on site even when not engaged in dangerous activities. Sadly these PPE are not 100% safe and there are some injuries that even hard hats cannot stop.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

When the brain sustains a sudden trauma it may cause irreparable damage to the brain. Sometimes workers may have sustained this type of trauma and may be unaware of it. Some of the symptoms these workers should look out for are persisting headaches, vomiting, nausea, convulsions, seizures, confusion or loss of consciousness. These types of injuries may cause disability in the long run and may also include cognition problems, communication problems or mental health problems. Some doctors even warn that long term side effects could include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, similar to the diseases suffered by boxers later on in life from repeated blows to the head.

Closed Head Injuries

Quite often workers drop tools, debris and equipment from higher heights, hitting workers below causing what is commonly referred to as blunt force trauma. A concussion is an example of this type of head injury.  It causes temporary disorientation in the victim who loses awareness momentarily because the cerebrospinal fluid doesn’t cushion the brain from the skull during the impact. Like with boxers, the more repeated the injury the more lasting the long term effects.

Another type of injury that can result from a head injury is a severed nerve. When the head sustains a blow, swelling can occur which causes a severed nerve. The consequences of this type of injury may be irreparable in severe cases. There is the chance it may cause paralysis of a limb/limbs and/or a loss of sensation. This may be a huge inconvenience to a worker and costly to the company especially because construction workers rely on their bodies to make a living.

Severe cases of head trauma can result in the worker falling into a coma, which is a deep state of unconsciousness. Although the worker is technically alive, they are unable to move or respond to their environment.

Although the thought of one of these injuries is frightening and something workers would rather not contemplate, they occur each day on construction sites across Australia. By making safety a priority employers and workers can ensure these do not occur on their sites.


Overcoming Heat Stress on Site

(Photo: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


Construction workers are often exposed to heat stress due to the amount of time spent outdoors. Workers on a construction site are most often involved in activities that generate heat such as welding and heavy machinery. These in conjunction with the heat of the sun can form a deadly combination that results in workers suffering from heat strokes, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes.

Workers who operate heavy tools or machinery may suffer from sweaty palms which can increase their risk of slipping and causing injury. Foggy safety glasses may impair vision and cause dizziness in workers.

Some construction workers are at a greater risk than others due to their age, weight or other factors such as heart conditions, high blood pressure or medication that may make them prone to heat related illness.

Employers have a duty to provide education about the dangers of working in the sun and heat and how these dangers can be minimised. Even workers who work on a confined construction site with little or no airconditioning and ventilation are at risk of heat related hazards. These workers should be educated on how to protect themselves from heat exhaustion and other consequences.

Possible Effects of Heat:

Heat Stroke is undoubtedly the most common and dangerous heat related side effect that is as a result of the body’s temperature rising too quickly. The body is unable to cool itself and the ability to sweat fails resulting in a heat stroke. This is dangerous because it can result in death or irreparable damage to the body.

Workers should look out for the following symptoms in themselves or co-workers:  Either dry skin from inability to sweat or profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech.

If you notice a co-worker with these symptoms move them immediately to a cool, shaded area. If possible soak their clothes in cool water and attempt to bring down their body temperature. Shower them or spray them with cool water or fan them while you wait for medical attention to arrive.

Heat Exhaustion is another possibility. It is caused when the body responds to the excessive loss of water and salt through perspiring. It is most common in workers who have a history of high blood pressure but anyone in an extremely hot environment can suffer from heat exhaustion, especially workers who are undertaking strenuous physical labour like construction workers do.

Those construction workers suffering from heat exhaustion may display signs such as heavy sweating, extreme weakness, dizziness, confusion, nausea, moist skin, flushed complexion, muscle cramps, elevated body temperature and fast shallow breathing.

The same treatment can be administered as with sufferers of heat stroke, move them to a cool, shady area, shower them with cool water and make them drink cool water.

Heat Syncope is another dangerous effect of working the heat of the sun.  It is characterised by fainting or dizziness. It normally happens when workers stand for too long in the sun or arise suddenly from a sitting or lying down position. The body become dehydrated and is not able to acclimatize resulting in fainting.

If you feel light headed or dizzy after a prolonged period in the sun, you may be about to faint. Sit down or lie in a cool place and drink water to hydrate yourself.

Heat cramps are a less serious consequence of heat exposure and normally affects workers who are involved in strenuous activity such as those involved in construction work, causing the worker to sweat profusely. This sweating diminishes the salts and water in the body and causes the muscles to cramp. It can occur in the abdomen, arms or legs and construction workers are particularly prone to this type of hazard. So if you feel these symptoms coming on, take a break in a cool, shaded area. Drink water, juice or a sports beverage to rehydrate you.

Employers can take precautions to prevent workers from falling victim to these conditions. Ensure workers have a cool, shaded place to take breaks and provide water for them to drink. Also ensure workers are equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment for working in the hot Sumer months.

Employers can attempt acclimatize workers by exposing them for progressively longer periods to hot work environments. Start with a short time in the heat and increase slightly.

Employers should also reduce the physical demands of workers in Sumer and when the sun os at its peak at midday. Relief workers can casual workers can be brought in hotter months to share the work load and alleviate some of the demand on workers.

Monitor workers health, especially those who are at risk of heat stress. Also as part of the site training, educate workers about the dangers of heat stress and the precautions they need to take to overcome them.


Working Safely on Construction sites in the Dark

(Photo: Sailom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Most construction workers are accustomed to working on a busy construction site and often working overtime to meet strict deadlines. This sometimes involves shift work and workers often have to work at night. Working at night or in the dark presents a potential hazard to construction workers and is quite different from working in daylight. Some construction sites are naturally dark, even during the day and so certain safety guidelines should be followed in order to maintain safety.

Working on a construction site at night means most often workers are fatigued and the lack of light creates blind spots where workers cannot see.These are the two greatest risks presented.

Overcoming fatigue is often difficult when workers move from a day shift to a night shift. The body’s internal clock is disrupted and this causes you to become fatigued at work, thereby jeopardising your ability to safety work. Sleeping during the day when not on shift is vital to remaining alert at night. Workers should try sleeping in a silent, dark room with no sunlight during the day. Also sleep the same amount of hours as you would at night.

Working in the absence of light, means workers chances of having accidents are increased. This can be overcome by providing appropriate lighting on site and having signage that is brightly lit and visible wherever hazards are present to warn workers.

Employers can also reduce incidents by implementing traffic control and having an awareness of what is located at the site, through training and signage.

The safety plan of the site should include an analysis of potential hazards on site arising from working in the dark. Planning ahead means taking into consideration all the possible dangers that could arise that could harm workers including taking note of blind spots, tripping or falling hazards and dangerous equipment.

Ensure warning signs are well maintained, illuminated and visible at all times. They should also be appropriately positioned to warn of hazards.

Workers operating heavy machinery and equipment may not be able to see behind the vehicle in the dark, these blind spots present a hazard. Employers should try to ensure the equipment on site comes with rear vision video systems or object detection systems that alert the operator to obstacles or people when reversing.

Ensure that the site has all the necessary lighting to work safely at night, including equipment mounted lights, hard hat lights, lights mounted on poles or cranes and spot lights on particular work areas. Fluorescent vests should be worn by workers to make them visible to other workers and machine operators.

Keep workers and equipment separated and ensure heavy machinery remains in specially demarcated zones.  Identify the safest routes for workers to drive equipment through and put up signs to indicate high traffic areas. As a worker, be alert and on the lookout for moving vehicles and equipment. Each night a worker should be assigned as a spotter for heavy machinery drivers.

Also workers should be involved in developing the safety protocols for their site. Management and supervisors should consult staff about the dangers they encounter and together establish ways of dealing with them. Review the sites safety plan on a regular basis.

All workers should have received training when beginning work on the site, this means that workers should have been taught how to work safety and effectively in the dark if the job requires. Although working in the dark presents a visibility hazard, by working together, being informed and vigilant and adhering to safety guidelines, workers need not fall victim to accidents that so frequently occur in the dark.


Federal Government must Eliminate Asbestos by 2030

(Image source : http://www.actu.org.au/Images/Dynamic/attachments/7727/ACTU%20Asbestos%20Report%20Final-Auspoll.pdf )

Auspoll, a survey recently commissioned by the ACTU has revealed that most Australians want the government to implement measures to have asbestos completely removed from all homes and public buildings by 2030.

Auspoll, as the survey was named, indicated that the majority of Australians (around two thirds) are still concerned about the effects of asbestos and the health risks it poses, regardless of its nation-wide ban a decade ago.

Last month the national inquiry into the removal of asbestos report was released. According to the report, government should aim to have asbestos completely removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 18 years. The inquiry also suggests the establishment of an audit into the presence of asbestos in residential buildings erected prior to 1987.

According to statistics around 500 Australians die each year from Mesothelioma, which is why citizens remain so concerned about the presence of asbestos in houses and buildings. According to ACTU president,Ged Kearney the poll, consisting of 1022 people showed ‘deep public concern’ about theissue, hence the 2030 target.

Asbestos has been used in thousands of materials and products throughout Australia for decades and has historically been used in places that were likely to experience intense exposure to the elements, which would degrade and deteriorate the product.So asbestos was used to give the product strength and longevity.  As the material deteriorates asbestos fibres are released into the air, which can have extremely harmful effects on the health of the human beings who inhale it, especially over time.

Although asbestos was banned, there are a number of buildings and homes that are still laced with asbestos through asbestos containing building materials which is now deteriorating and posing a potential threat. With Australia’s high rate of asbestos consumption, members of the public are understandably concerned.

It is thought that over one million homes have asbestos containing material, that’s almost a third of every domestic dwelling built prior to 1982, as well as hospitals, offices and schools. It is affecting the entire nation.

The majority of people who participated in the poll agreed that asbestos remains a huge health risk in Australia and even more indicated that the presence of the deadly substance would affect their decision to buy a home or not.

According to the poll, around 85% of the public back the recommendation for a national audit to be conducted which would identify remnant asbestos across Oz and about 90% advocated a national program for its removal.

Another recommendation made by the poll participants was for property sellers to have to provide certification that a property is asbestos free before selling it and even admitted their willingness to pay more for a property if the asbestos was removed by the previous owner.

A national asbestos summit is to be held in Sydney from the 4th of September to discuss how to handle the problem of asbestos. The unions will use the summit to discuss their plans for the removal of asbestos.

To read more about the ACTU Poll, visit http://www.actu.org.au/Images/Dynamic/attachments/7727/ACTU%20Asbestos%20Report%20Final-Auspoll.pdf



Whitecard update: Hazards to the Health of Construction Workers

Workers in the construction industry face a number of health and safety hazards on their sites each day. Various tradesmen have to operate at the same time in a confined space on a site which makes the possibility on injury greater.

Some of the hazards that workers face involve exposure to materials that can cause serious illness and affect the worker’s long term health. Here we have included some of the materials that may cause damage or injury to workers health and safety and how they can be overcome.

Wood and Wood Dust

Construction workers are often involved in doing flooring and wall panelling and therefore have to handle large amounts of particleboard or fibreboard. These wood boards or panels contain a potentially deadly chemical, called formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is suspected of contributing to cancer in humans which is what makes it such a threat.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Construction workers are involved in sawing, drilling, sanding and other machine work that generates large amounts of wood dust. This wood dust becomes dangerous when it is airborne. Inhaling formaldehyde can cause burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat and a range of other symptoms in extreme cases.

Nasal Cancer among wood workers is common because large wood dust particles can become easily trapped in the nasal passage. Chronic lung disease can also result from inhaling wood dust which drastically reduces the functioning of the lungs.

Occupational asthma is another side effect of this type of work. Woods such as oak, western red cedar and blackwood are known causes. Allergic diseases may be caused by handling and working with timber contaminated with fungi or moulds.

So how can this type of hazard be managed? Employers need to provide an efficient dust extraction system to control wood dust. Also the effectiveness of PPE cannot be underestimated. Suitable personal protection (in the form of dust masks and eye protection) must be worn when machining wood at all times. Good housekeeping is also important. The work area should be cleaned daily and wood dust removed.  To prevent the formaldehyde in custom woods from causing cancer, make sure that the work area is well ventilated.

Synthetic Mineral Fibres (SMF)

Another danger posed to construction workers are synthetic mineral fibres (SMF). There are products commonly used in construction of buildings, made from fibreglass, rockwool and ceramic. These are fibrous products which are widely used in buildings for thermal insulation and sound protection. This means that workers that are at risk include laggers, plumbers and carpenters.

Some experts even fear that these fibres could be as dangerous to workers health as asbestos because they have similar side effects.  Some of these fibres are less dangerous and cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Others, such as fibreglass are more dangerous and can cause lung cancer.

Employers should provide workers with suitable respirators and protective clothing. Workers have a responsibility to wear the PPE provided if they are exposed to the hazard.


Chemicals or solvents are commonly used by various workers on a construction site for degreasing, cleaning and painting and are also found in glues, paints and varnishes.

Solvents are chemicals that are easily evaporated which results in workers breathing in the toxic fumes.  Exposure to the vapour or liquid form can have both short and long-term effects on the construction worker’s health.

Exposure to solvents can also be absorbed through the skin rather than inhaled and may still cause damage.

Short term side effects may include headaches, nausea, drowsiness and dermatitis. The effects of repeated exposure include kidney damage, liver and skin problems. These solvents also have the ability of affecting a person’s mental state and nervous system causing sleep disorders, short-term memory loss and dementia.

Provision of information by the employer, to the workers is important and required by WH&S regulations.

Workers will be provided with site specific training that should incorporate the dangerous substance that workers will be exposed to on site and how to effectively manage this hazard. While these are not the only hazardous substances workers will have to endure on site, similar prevention methods can be used to prevent them causing harm to workers. 


White Card Update: Trench Safety Warning

WorkSafe has warned that construction workers need to be aware of the danger of working around trenches. Construction workers in particularly are in danger of being injured when trench walls collapse. This warning follows an incident which saw a plumber sustaining serious injuries after a trench collapsed where he was working. Thankfully the worker did not suffer any serious injuries because as WorkSafe warns, the situation could have been much worse. This alert posted on WorkSafe’s website has more:

WorkSafe is reminding the construction industry of the dangers associated with trenches after one collapsed on a worker at a domestic housing site at Pakenham at the weekend.  The incident happened a week before a 12-month statewideWorkSafe campaign targeting safety on housing construction sites. Injuries on construction sites cost the industry $17 million a year in medical costs, wages and other expenses. The trench collapsed on a plumber while he was connecting a sewer at a housing construction site about 9.30am on Saturday. WorkSafe’s Construction Manager Allan Beacom said it was fortunate the worker had a colleague nearby who was able to raise the alarm. “Broken limbs, asphyxia and crush injuries are just some of the serious injuries that can occur when a trench collapses,” he said. “This man is incredibly lucky he wasn’t seriously injured; the consequences could have been a lot worse.” Mr Beacom said the incident was a reminder to the construction industry to review safety practices. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve come across an incident where a trench has collapsed on a worker. This time last year, WorkSafe issued a safety alert on this topic as we were coming across a number of incidents being engulfed in collapsed trenches.” “There’s a range of control measures that can be implemented before beginning work on trenches. They are well-known across the industry and should be implemented to eliminate any risk of a collapse.” “As we’re in the middle of winter, it’s equally important that environmental factors such as wet weather conditions and increased ground moisture are taken into account as they could affect soil stability.” “Poor soil stability and loose earth places workers at greater risk of serious injury if a trench is a metre or more deep. We urge those who are putting together a safe work method statement to take these factors into account.” Other control measures include ensuring:   –    A colleague is on site while trench works are being carried out; 1.Work is planned so it can be done safely, including determining appropriate; engulfment protection and site security requirements; 2.A safe work method statement (SWMS) is developed for high risk work that involves mobile plant or if the trench depth is 1.5m or more; 3.Workers never work outside of protection shields or remove it prematurely if it is being progressively installed; 4.Materials, spoil and plant are kept away from the edge of the trench. The Code of Practice for Safety Precautions in Trenching Operations can be found at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au Source: http://www.news.com.au/national-news/man-trapped-in-muddy-trench/story-fndo4eg9-1226448096606

A similar incident occurred last week when a worker was trapped waist deep in a trench and had to be rescued by emergency services. The accident happened when the man was working in the trench at a new housing project in Pakenham. The bad weather in the area caused the trench to collapse, trapping the worker in the hole. Emergency personnel had to use specialist equipment to free the man. This included the use of hydraulic equipment that firefighters utilised to dig the trench safely and prevent further collapse. The worker was been taken to hospital and thankfully only suffered minor injuries. The good news is that the authorities say these types of incidents are isolated which means that most workers do the right thing and work safely. The weather was the cause of the incident and not human error. This worker was lucky to escape unscathed however planning, developing safe work method statements and general caution when working near trenches will ensure that incidents of this nature remain uncommon.


Vic WorkCover – Emphasis on Construction Safety

Source : Elliott Brown

Following the statistics that were released showing that housing construction is costing the industry millions of dollars, the month of August will see WorkCover Inspectors target safety in Casey, Melbourne.

The organisation has named the campaign, “SafeSite” and will focus on inspections in the housing construction industry. Inspectors will be concentrating on safety planning, site supervision, fall prevention, housekeeping, electrical safety and workers onsite facilities and amenities.

According to the Assistant Treasurer of WorkCover, Gordon Rich-Phillips, the aim of the campaign is reduce the cost of housing construction accidents which was estimated at $17 million last year.

Rich-Phillips emphasised that safety requires a planned and concerted effort and doesn’t just happen, especially on fast paced sites.  Part of a safe site involves effective supervision and planning and every worker on site needs to be attentive to safety.  He also explained that while WorkCover is there to help, the ones ultimately responsible for safety are the workers on site.

WorkCover will target various suburban and regional areas over the next year, starting with this campaign.  Casey was chosen as the first area to be targeted, due to the high number of construction incidents that occur here each year however campaigns in five other areas will follow over the course of the next 12 months according to WorkCover.


White Card Update: Asbestos Clean-up Breach

Asbestos Clean Up Breach reinforces need for White Card trainingImage Source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/asbestos-clean-up-breach-fears-at-old-mitsubishi-site/story-e6frea83-1226370401166

The suspected safety breach at the old Mitsubishi site involving asbestos removal has sparked outrage among workers at the site, who fear for their health due to exposure to the harmful substance.  Construction work has commenced at the site, beginning with the removal of old asbestos. Workers believe that safety procedures have been ignored by neglecting PPE requirements. Some workers attempted to highlight the seriousness of their concern by quitting work on the site.

A report by Adelaidenow.com.au had this to report on the issue:

WORKERS on the state’s biggest asbestos-removal site at the former Mitsubishi car plant say procedural breaches are risking safety.

Workers who contacted The Advertiser anonymously say they do not believe correct removal procedures had been adhered to in the first four months of the project, to clean up 93,000sq m of asbestos sheeting on the former factory site.

SafeWork SA officers, regularly on site, said its inspectors had issued statutory notices to address non-compliant work practices.

The breaches involve a failure to comply with the personal protective equipment requirements of workers in the asbestos-removal zone. But the workers, some of whom have quit, believe the issues and dangers at the site extend beyond people not being appropriately equipped with protective gear.

They have questioned how the clean-up project, conducted by DE-Construct for developers Baulderstone, handles the asbestos sheeting once it is removed from the factory structure.

One worker said the sheets were “dumped” into trucks lined with plastic, causing asbestos particles and dust to become airborne.

And workers are also concerned about thick dust in the factory that they fear contains asbestos.

A Baulderstone spokesman said the health and safety of everybody involved with its projects was the company’s first priority.

“We take our environmental obligations very seriously and the protection of all aspects of the environment is a key concern,” the spokesman said.

Asbestos removal is being carried out under the EPA guidelines together with approvals from SafeWork SA.

“The subcontractor engaged on the project is working in accordance with the asbestos-removal plan.

“The Baulderstone project team will continue to work with SafeWork SA to ensure all preventative measures are adhered to for the life of this project.”

SafeWork SA said the Tonsley Park redevelopment, an SA government project being managed by the Urban Renewal Authority, has been declared a major project.

“The redevelopment involves significant construction work including the removal of asbestos,” a SafeWork SA spokeswoman said.

“SafeWork SA has assigned specialist inspectors from the Mineral Fibres Unit and the Construction and High Risk Plant Team to this project.”

Source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/asbestos-clean-up-breach-fears-at-old-mitsubishi-site/story-e6frea83-1226370401166

Contractors tasked with asbestos removal have a responsibility to themselves and to other workers to ensure they perform their duties in a manner that will not endanger anyone’s health and safety. They should ensure that asbestos-related work areas are separated from other work areas and that signs are used to warn workers of areas that are undergoing asbestos removal.These should be kept clear of unnecessary workers. Barricades can be used to close off these areas from foot traffic.

A competent person should carry out air monitoring and where there is uncertainty about level of exposure the asbestos waste should be contained and labelled according to regulation, not like the Mitsubishi site where asbestos was thrown onto a truck, releasing potentially dangerous particles into the air, to be inhaled by workers in the vicinity.

PPE is vital in the removal of asbestos and these PPE should be sealed, decontaminated, labelled and disposed of according to Australian safety standards.  If that is not possible, PPE should be decontaminated and kept in a sealed, secure container until it is necessary to re-use for the same asbestos removal purpose.

While PPE is not effective on its own, it will need to be used in conjunction with other control measures. Selection of PPE will be determined by a risk assessment. It may occur that hazardous chemicals will need to be used in the removal of the asbestos and in this instance a further risk assessment will be necessary. In this case Safety data sheets (SDS) must be referred to for information on the appropriate PPE to use and the appropriate precautions to take when working with the hazardous chemical.  When considering which PPE to use one of the factors that need to be considered will be ease of decontamination and the extent of protection they provide.  Other basic safety precautions and a comprehensive risk assessment should also be adhered to as outlined in the CPCCOHS1001A – Work safely in the construction industry White Card course.

Workers at the Mitsubishi site acted wisely in alerting authorities and the public to what they perceived as unsafe practices on their work site. Safety should always be the main priority of workers and employers. It’s not worth endangering your life in the name of productivity. Let’s hope this case will serve as a warning to other contractors and employers that safety is their main responsibility and even more so where dangerous materials are involved.

Posted by Steven Asnicar.

White Card Update: Danger of Slips, Trips and Falls – Is Your Workplace Safe?

While accidents can occur in any workplace, construction sites are particular susceptible to slips, trips and falls due to the large number of potential hazards on site. Slip and fall hazards are one of the most commonly identified hazards that are dealt with at some length in the OHS White Card course at www.whitecardonline.com.au.

Some of the injuries associated with slips, trips and falls include cuts, sprains, fractures, spinal injury and strains to name a few. As numerous as the possible injuries are the hazards that contribute to these injuries. By paying attention to these hazards, it is possible to reduce the risk involved.

Factors that contribute to slips, trips and falls include wet or oily floors, uneven or slippery surfaces or slopes.

Other areas of concern are working on ladders, working from heights, stairs, areas with bad lighting, working near trenches or pits. Vigilance is necessary when working with any of these.

Picture source: www.checkonsafety.com

Slips especially occur when shoes lose their grip on the floor. Whether a substance is spilled on the floor or an object is left on the floor that causes a fall, a loss of balance is the result.


Working with ladders can be dangerous when not used safely. Ladders should be used specifically for its task, don’t improvise, follow the rules. Accidents do occur and you may injure yourself or co-workers and be held responsible. Some guidelines regarding ladders include, not placing ladders in front of doors or allowing more than one person on at a time. Another important point to remember is to not climb higher than the third rung from the top of a straight ladder or the second rung from the top of a step ladder.


Another falling risk is the presence of trenches or pits on site. By falling into a trench or pit, workers can be seriously injured. While most deaths in trenches are caused by cave-ins, falls could also be hazardous. Fences, barricades, guardrails and appropriate warning signs must accompany trenches or pits. According to OHS law, employees must be trained about working near trench and other construction site hazards.


Falling from heights could also be critical. When working on scaffolding or a rooftop, workers need to be cautious. Regulation requires an approved safety system should be implemented, including guardrails, scaffolding and fall protection. If these measures do not sufficiently reduce the risk workers should be equipped with proper safety harnesses.

According to statistics trips most often occur due to uneven floor surface or obstacles on floors for example cables or tools, or loose tiles or foreign objects on floors. Good housekeeping is vital to ensure floors are kept clear of obstructions and possible tripping hazards. It is also important to make sure floors are free from holes, uneven surfaces or obstacles.

Smaller details that are often ignored also need to be attended to when identifying hazards. Such as appropriateness of footwear. Footwear on site needs to be suitable for the type of work and environment. A non-slip sole and appropriate tread is needed to ensure proper grip between the floor surface and footwear. Lighting is also often ignored and contributes to accidents on site. Poor lighting and distractions can impact a person’s awareness of their surroundings, including possible slipping or falling hazards in their path.

As an employee you can assist by keeping floors clean and clear of obstructions, dealing with spills or accidents immediately, barricading or placing warning signs around potential hazard areas, avoiding trailing cables, cords, pipes or other equipment across the walkway.

Workers need to have a thorough understanding of slips, trips and falls hazards and how these hazards can be managed and hopefully minimised. Staff should be trained on how to control hazards and avoid injury, including proper reporting procedures.

As a worker, you have a duty to take care of your own safety as well as that of your co-workers. Workers need to continually assess the situation to assure they are not putting themselves or others at risk. Compliance with safe work practice and cooperation with your employer is crucial in this regard.

If you feel your workplace does not comply with proper safety regulations or place you or your co-workers at risk report it immediately before it’s too late.

Other rules and guidelines would have been made available to you during your induction training. If you have not received your training and are working on a construction site you are doing so illegally. To rectify the situation complete your online white card course today.

Posted by Steven Asnicar