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Date PostedAugust 20, 2012

White Card Update: General Construction Site Safety

Each year dozens of workers leave home for a construction job and never return home. There is no doubt that construction is a dangerous industry and one that requires the strictest adherence to safety. Workplace Health and Safety legislation dictates that employers and workers do their part in the maintenance of a safe site and workers need to undergo the appropriate training, including site specific and general induction training.

However it’s always a good thing to keep updating your safety knowledge and skills and here we have included a few basic general construction safety tips that workers can keep in mind on site.

Good construction safety tips can be learned from reading the manufacturer’s instructions for correct use of equipment. The most common risks to safety for construction workers are falls, electrocution, crushing by heavy machinery, exposure to chemicals and being struck by falling objects.

Avoid manual handling hazards.  Lifting can present a hazard on construction sites and can result in injuries to the musculoskeletal system that will affect a worker right into their final years. Nowadays all heavy equipment and large industrial packaging have instructions on how to properly lift them, however in haste workers often ignore these. Something as trivial as how to lift correctly is often seen as to petty or small for workers to warrant attention and this is how injuries occur.  If something seems heavy, ask a co-worker to help you carry it. If you will be carrying an item over a long distance, use a forklift or other kind of vehicle to get the job done.

Instruction Manuals are not just a waste of time and paper. You should never operate a piece of machinery until you have been trained on it and you fully understand the manufacturer’s operational manual. Part of this includes knowing when something goes wrong with the equipment and becoming familiar with the procedures you will need to follow in case of an emergency.

A well maintained site is a safe site. Workers make an effort not to leave equipment lying around a site that can cause a tripping hazard or may fall on someone’s head. When you are done with power tools, unplug them before setting them down as the cords can also cause someone to trip. Always walk with caution on a site looking out for vehicles or people carrying large objects. Try to keep foot traffic moving through busy walking areas all of the time.

Be diligent in your dedication to safety. You should always know where the site supervisor is and who the site safety office is as well in case an emergency does occur. Report any unsafe behaviour or work practices immediately to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Even if the unsafe practice comes from a person in authority, do not be afraid to report it.

Stretching is not just for athletes. Stretch out your arms, legs, wrists and back when you have time as this will help loosen joints and muscles. The repeated motion of certain construction tasks can create problems such as muscle cramps or even carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists and forearms. Stretching will prevent cramps and other problems.

Take extra precaution when necessary. For example if you will be lifting heavy items regularly wear a back support to prevent injury. Anticipate possible problems you may encounter beforehand. Use steel-toe boots with thick soles to protect your feet. Wear the proper protective gear in bad weather and be cautious in rainy or wet weather occasions to prevent slipping.

Any person who enters a construction site must have adequate training to prove that he is able to identify and avoid hazards that could cause death or injury due to the dangers that a construction site poses. Anyone operating a plant or machinery must be fully qualified to do so. However ordinary workers should be in possession of the White Card Training Course to certify that they are qualified to work on a construction site.  Each site worker is ultimately responsible for his own safety but also ensure that he/she does not put the lives of his/her co-workers at risk.  Therefore no matter the task being undertaken, every construction worker should ensure that he is working safely.

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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