White Card Update : Caution When Working Alone

A tip truck driver died after being crushed between the cabin of his truck and a tree whilst preparing for the day’s operations.  He was working alone at the time in an isolated area. This is just one of the incidents involving workers who were injured whilst working alone, highlighting the dangers that solitary work poses. These dangers need to be identified and workers need to remember certain work health and safety procedures in order to avoid being injured or killed in an incident.

The risk of injury for people working in solitary may be increased because of difficulty contacting emergency services and following other emergency procedures when they are required to do so.

Emergency situations may arise because of the sudden onset of a medical condition, accidental work-related injury or disease or exposure to the elements. The harm caused can be very serious and may result in a fatality for workers who are separated or working alone. These workers are on their own, therefore they cannot be heard or seen when an emergency arises.

Picture: presecurity.com.au

A safe system of work needs to be developed for people who work alone. Employers have a duty to conduct a risk assessment and have a means of communication available for emergency situations.

Employers need to firstly identify hazards that may affect the person working alone and assess the risks of injury from the hazard by considering the likelihood of the hazard occurring and the worst case scenario if it does occur.

Implementing control measures to minimise the risks would be the next step and these control measures need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

The person who will be working alone must be trained and instructed on working alone and the procedures to follow as these will differ from ordinary workers who work in a group.

Workers who work alone have a responsibility to comply with workplace health and safety regulations.

Workers should report hazards and any incidents that may have occurred to their employer. Employers can then develop systems to reduce this hazard.

Even self-employed people have to take care of their own safety when they work alone.

Employers must ensure that in the event of an emergency a means of communication is available.

The person working alone must be trained to carry out work activities safely without supervision, manage events that occur when working alone and follow procedures to obtain emergency assistance if required. If working in a remote location without the proper infrastructure and support the person working alone must be able to do so safely.

Picture: bpgroup.com.au

Factors that need to be considered when compiling the safety procedures are the amount of time spent working alone, communication, location and nature of the work.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment, information, instruction and training, supervision, personal protective equipment and safe plant and machinery for employees working alone. Employers need to also determine if it is really necessary for the worker to work alone. Some activities may be too dangerous to carry out alone or without assistance or supervision.

The information, training and instruction provided by the employer must specifically address working alone and procedures the worker should follow in an emergency.  Employers should also educate the worker on procedures and use of emergency communication devices.

Procedures need to be put in place in the event of fires, need for first aid or exposure to hazardous material for the worker and be specific to the workers unique situation.

Because of the nature of the work, direct supervision would not be possible but a form of indirect supervision should be employed.

Employers should be satisfied that workers have the necessary skills and capability to work independently before allowing them to do so. Young, new or apprentice workers are particularly vulnerable on site, so employers should be careful to avoid making them work alone.

Workers have a legal obligation to comply with safety instructions as directed by their employers.

Personal security systems should also feature in work-sites where people work alone. These wireless, portable devices carry a signal from the workers transmitter to a transcribe at the companies receiver at a central location. Some advanced devices have non-motion sensor that will alert the head office if there is no movement for an amount of time, indicating a possible emergency.

Workers need to remain especially alert and vigilant when working alone as the dangers are just as real, and they don’t have the same support and assistance as other workers.

Posted by Steven Asnicar.

White Card Articles: Personal Protective Equipment on Construction Sites

According to statistics released by WorkSafe, injuries on housing building sites are costing the construction industry more than $17million a year. More than 20 Victorian tradies injuries a week were reported on housing constructions sites last year.

In order to reduce these skyrocketing figures it is important that both employers, employees and self-employed tradespeople comply with workplace health and safety policies. One such policy which can significantly reduce the number of injuries on construction sites is the use of PPE.


Picture: www.easyguides.com.au

Personal Protective Equipment is clothing or equipment designed to control risks to health and safety in the workplace. Examples of PPE are:

  • Ear plugs & ear muffs for hearing protection
  • Sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful effects of the sun
  • Hard hats, helmets & sun hats for head protection
  • Respirators, face masks & cartridge filters for breathing protection
  • Safety Boots for foot protection
  • High-visibility garments, thermal wear, overalls, aprons & safety harnesses for overall body protection
  • Reflective vests & fluoro jackets for protection of your abdomen and upper body
  • Goggles & Safety Glasses for eye protection

As an employee in the construction industry you have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including use of PPE if instructed by your employer. Refusal to cooperate with these safety policies can result in disciplinary action or prosecution.

Employers have a responsibility to pay for and provide PPE and employees must utilise it as required.

Be vigilant on site and if you see a co-worker not using the PPE provided when they should be, warn them of the risk they are taking and immediately tell your manager.

PPE provide the least effective solution to hazards on a construction site because it doesn’t address the hazard but rather provides a layer of protection against it. It is still helpful in shielding workers from injury.  Therefore it should not be the only control measure implemented but should be used in conjunction with other safety measures.

There are various circumstances that may arise on site that can be prevented or minimised by wearing personal protective equipment. Circumstances that warrant the use of PPE include:

  1. Where there is a risk of noise induced hearing loss, employers should provide hearing protection. The need for such hearing protection equipment such as ear plugs will be assessed by conducting noise surveys in the affected areas.
  2. Workers that are required to work outdoors should be provided with protective clothing and sunscreen suitable for protection from sun damage, especially workers who are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays for long periods of time and are at risk of sun burn and skin cancer due to direct exposure to harmful UV rays.  Radiation from long hours of outdoor work can be reduced by providing hats, long sleeves/trousers and an adequate supply of sunscreen.
  3. When there is a possibility that a person may be struck on the head by a falling object or their head is vulnerable to injury in any way head protection in the form of a safety helmet must be worn.
  4. Hazards such as flying particles, dust, splashing substances, harmful gases, vapours, aerosols, and high intensity radiation from welding operations warrant and necessitate eye protection due to risk of eye injury or loss.
  5. Respiratory protection should be provided after all other practicable measures have been taken to provide control measures to ensure that no worker is exposed to an atmosphere that is or may be harmful to health.
  6. Workers operating near moving traffic or moving plant and equipment should wear high visibility safety vests to reduce the risk of injury associated with not being seen and being hit or run over by machinery or construction vehicles.
  7. Hand protection should be provided where there is a hazard associated with a potential for hand injury, such as working with certain tools. The list of hazards that injure hands will be compiled for each workplace and suitable hand protection should be provided to minimise risk.
  8. Safety /Protective footwear should be provided by employers where the nature of the work exposes the employee to risk of injury to feet.  On a construction site, all workers have the risk of injuring their feet.

Conclusion

While employers do have the responsibility of providing workers with PPE, it is the responsibility of workers to follow the workplace health and safety policies and regulations as instructed by employers… this is covered in our White Card training course. This includes utilising PPE as instructed.  Workers should not charge employees for PPE, as they are required to provide it by law. Employers must also provide the necessary training and instruction on use of PPE.  Workers who fail to utilise PPE as required are not only making themselves eligible for disciplinary action and prosecution, but even more serious they are putting their lives at risk.