An interesting post recently on SafetyCulture.com.au brought an important issue for the construction industry to light. Two construction giants have agreed to fund a safety research project following an incident six years ago. This is good news for construction workers as more undertakings of this nature can help shed some light on safety issues plaguing the industry.
The post on SafetyCulture.com.au had this to say:
Two big construction companies have agreed in to a $225,000 enforceable undertaking after two concrete panels fell from a contractor’s truck six years ago.
The incident happened near the Eastlink tollway project at Ringwood in October 2006. The tollway was being constructed by the companies in a joint venture. They subcontracted other companies to transport the concrete panels which were used as sound barriers.
Enforceable undertakings, according to WorkSafe Victoria, were a recommendation of the 2003 review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by Chris Maxwell QC. They serve as an alternative to prosecution in some cases and can provide quicker resolution of an issue, but with a direct safety outcome.
Instead of a prosecution with WorkSafe Victoria, the two companies will spend up to $225,000 to research best-practice for contractor engagement and management.
Ian Forsyth, WorkSafe Victoria’s Deputy Chief Executive, said the research was a terrific outcome for workplace safety.
“The money we would have expected to have been imposed as a fine will go directly toward a safety outcome with a practical application.
“A significant part of the application of workplace health and safety is not just applying what the law says about basic obligations, but what is also ‘reasonably practicable’.”
The companies will engage a WorkSafe-approved independent health and safety experts and report back to WorkSafe on their findings within six months.
As part of the process, guidance materials will be developed and will be posted on the companies’ websites. These will be distributed to industry stakeholders.
If the research project costs less than the set amount, the difference will be donated to Monash University’s Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research.
The research will look at the selection, engagement, monitoring and management of specialist contractors which dominate major infrastructure projects.
Thankfully the 2 companies involved admitted to their shortcomings in failing to provide the appropriate training, safe work systems and supervision to workers although they were well aware of the risks. It is hoped more research of this nature will help reduce the large number of injuries and fatalities we see on construction sites each year.
On a construction site there are some dangers that are more prevalent than others and are common to most construction sites, both residential and commercial sites. Some of the other areas that warrant investigation due to their prevalence in construction are falls from heights, electrical hazards, working with dangerous plant, machinery and equipment. A shocking statistic was released recently which revealed that approximately 20 Victorian tragedies a week occur on housing construction sites alone, costing the industry a staggering $17million a year in medical costs, wages and other expenses. More research is required in these areas if we are to reduce the amount of lives lost and decrease the cost to the nation’s economy which is currently about $1.5billion annually.
The report goes on to state:
The two companies admitted to failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work and provide information instruction, training and supervision, and ensuring that people other than workers were not exposed to risks.
“What we achieved in this case is getting two major companies to pay for research that may have application elsewhere,” said Mr Forsyth.
The company engaged in transporting the concrete panels was convicted and fined $30,000 in 2009.
More information on enforceable undertakings can be accessed through WorkSafe’s Compliance and enforcement policy.
While construction is a rewarding industry, it requires attention to safety In order to maintain the health and safety of the workers on site. A prioritisation of safety begins with identifying the risks and developing a strategy In which to deal with these risks, by either substituting them with a less dangerous activity or minimising the risk using control measures.
Posted by Steven Asnicar