Report to be Prepared for Coroner Following Worker Death at Catherine Field

catherine field

Following the death of a 57 year old worker at a construction site in Catherine Field, NSW police have announced that a report will be prepared for the coroner.

According to initial reports the man was operating heavy machinery at the time of the accident. Emergency crews were called in when the man become trapped between pieces of earth moving equipment.

Source: NSW Police

Study Reveals Hefty Cost of Heat Stress


An article on Safety website recently discussed a study claiming that as the earth’s temperature rises, workers’ productivity is also effected negatively due to heat stress.

The study revealed that heat stress cost The U.S.A. about $US6.2 billion ($A7.92billion) and this number is set to increase as the earth warms even more.

In the construction industry we spend most of our time outdoors, which is why guarding against heat stress is particularly important to us.

Find out more here.

Commonly Missed Hazards on Construction Sites

Construction sites are considered to be one of the most potentially hazardous working environments and excessive exposure to hazards places workers at risk of injury and possibly even death. It is for this reason that companies engaged in construction activities need to identify all these hazards and address them by either eliminating them, minimising the risks associated with them and implementing the necessary control measures so that everyone on site is kept safe.

Unfortunately sometimes hazards can go unnoticed and sometimes even when the risk associated with a hazard is obvious those in charge of the site still fail to address them. For some reason there are certain hazards that are ignored more than  others, perhaps because it seems like too much of an effort and expense to implement the necessary control measures. Here are a list of commonly missed hazards on construction sites although not all inclusive the list can be useful in identifying any problems you may have missed on the construction site. The number of construction accidents relating to these hazards is the basis for the list.

1. Electrical Hazards:

In light of multiple electrical accidents which having been taking place on Aussie worksites,  many of which have proven fatal, it is important that we address general electrical safety on the construction site. Although the subject of electrical safety is too vast to cover in a brief paragraph having the right mindset, being alert and attentive to hazards is vital to avoid injury due to this hazard.

Workers need to learn how to recognise electrical wires whether they be in the form of power lines, electrical wiring exposed on the site due to work processes being undertaken or cables buried underground, particularly when working on renovation construction sites.

2. Slips, Trips and Falls

Some of the injuries associated with slips, trips and falls include cuts, sprains, fractures, spinal injury, strains and possibly death. As numerous as the possible injuries are, so too 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, working on ladders or scaffolding or in fact working from any height, stairs, areas with bad lighting, working near trenches or pits etc.

Each of these need to be considered individually and if they cannot be eliminated or replaced with less hazardous work, the necessary control measures should be implemented to deal with them.

3. Hazards associated with Heavy Construction Equipment –

A number of construction workers die every year due to heavy construction equipment. The main causes of such accidents include ground workers struck when a vehicle is reversing or changing direction; equipment rollovers that injure the operator; mechanics run over when brakes are not properly set and ground workers crushed by falling equipment from backhoes, buckets, and other moving construction vehicles. To prevent these risks, workers should follow all construction safety guidelines necessary to eliminate the exposure to such injuries and accidents.

Safety risks on construction sites are unavoidable; however, these can be prevented if workers are instructed on how to identify the hazards that might be present at the work-site. The employer must establish proper safety standards that meet Australian regulations. This will ensure that workers will have a safe working environment during normal operation.

Most importantly ensure that all staff are aware of the risks and control measures implemented to deal with hazards on construction sites. Training and ongoing education of workers is vital in avoiding incidents on construction sites.



ACTU Calls for Better Safety Laws to reduce injuries

More than half a million workers are injured in Australia every year and over 100,000 of those injuries are serious. It is for this reason that ACTU has called on the government to introduce better safety laws to protect workers and reduce injuries. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has accused the Queensland government of doing just the opposite with the recent discussions of changing right of entry laws to limit access to worksites, a move the unions say will make workers more vulnerable instead of empowering and protecting them.

According to ACTU head Ged Kearney more must be done to prevent injuries on Australian worksites. More than 600,000 injuries a year is unacceptable and is costing the Australian economy over $60 billion a year.

Kearney says that thousands of workers are being fatally injured from preventable factors, which is an indication that more vigilance is necessary, but Kearney says the government is heading in the opposite direction, causing less vigilance.

She says there aren’t enough inspectors and they are unable to visit anywhere near the number of workplaces required. Fines and prosecutions are extremely low compared with the number of injuries and deaths. While employer fines run into only $22 million, the cost of injury claims in Australia is in the billions.

The following excerpt from an article on explains:

WORKPLACE safety laws in Australia need to be further strengthened to reduce the death and injury toll, unions say.

ACTU president Ged Kearney says more than 600,000 workers are injured every year in Australia, costing the country $60 billion.

“Thousands of workers are injured or killed from preventable factors and that tells us we need to be much more vigilant, not less which is the direction we are heading,” Ms Kearney said.

The ACTU on Tuesday hosted its health and safety conference in Adelaide with union representatives from across the country.

It was told that there in addition to a shortage of workplace inspectors, fines and the number of prosecutions for workplace safety issues remain low.

See more at:

The ACTU president also reiterated that workplace safety provisions should be encouraging workers to speak up about safety issues rather than try to silence them, which is what they say limiting access to sites would do. She also reminded everyone that employers, government and unions need to work together to ensure workplace safety.

One of the problems that are also giving rise to workplace injuries is the number of workers who are afraid to speak out against dangerous practices because of fear for their jobs, thereby endangering their own lives in the process. The post goes on to explain:

She says the rise of casual or contract work is also a concern.

“People in insecure work are too frightened to speak up about safety in case they lose their job,” she said.

See more at:

Kearney says that employers who fail to protect workers by implementing appropriate safety procedures on purpose should be fined and prosecuted and those that fail to do so because of ignorance should receive more guidance. Either way government needs to work together with employers and unions to improve workplace safety.


Fire Prevention on Construction Sites

There is a number of work activities on building sites that have the potential to set off fires. That is why it is necessary for the appropriate fire fighting equipment and fire protection to be available on the site.

The first step in ensuring that workers on site are prepared for fires is to identify and assess the hazards that may cause a fire. If these hazards cannot be eliminated, they must be controlled to avoid a fire. Even if there are appropriate control measures in place, the appropriate fire fighting facilities should still be provided as a last line of defence. These facilities will be determined by the hazards.

According to legislation, those in charge of the worksite must ensure that there are portable fire extinguishers provided and installed at all workplaces.

One of the concerns that some employers often face is, which fire protection and equipment to choose and where it should be located on the site and in proximity of the hazard. The type of fire extinguishers selected will depend on the hazards identified. For example if there is a risk of an electrical fire breaking out, it is necessary for a carbon dioxide (C02) extinguisher to be provided on the site to put out the fire.

Fire prevention on the work site can actually be aided by following a few safety tips include good housekeeping by removing waste materials and accumulated dust on a regular basis (because these present a fire hazard), keeping flammable materials in a place where the is no risk of them causing a fire and by utilising the correct warning signs wherever necessary.

Choosing the right equipment for the job need not be a complicated task despite the various options available. Here are some tips on choosing the right fire equipment for the job:

1.       Water Fire Extinguisher:

If a hazard has been identified which poses the risk of wood, paper, textile or rubbish fire breaking out, then a water extinguisher is the way to go.

2.       Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher:

This extinguisher is suitable for when fires occurs involving live electrical appliances such as switchboards, electric motors and electronic equipment. These extinguishers can also be used on smaller flammable liquid fires induced by petrol, paint or solvents commonly found on a construction site.

3.       Foam Fire Extinguishers:

A foam fire extinguisher is designed to be used on flammable liquids such as petrol, paint and solvents. These aren’t suitable for use on electrical fires.

4.       Powder Type Fire Extinguisher:

This type of extinguisher is available in a variety of powders to cover a wide range of risks. Dry chemical powder is extremely effective when used to extinguish flammable liquid and energised electrical equipment

According to Australian legislation it is recommended that fire mains and/or fire hose reels be available for the fire fighting purposes as the building progresses. Fire blankets are also an option and are suitable for stove top fires usually caused by cooking oils.


Hazards Associated with Loading and unloading Vehicles on Site

Hazards associated with loading and unloading of vehicle on construction sites often affect the driver or operator of the vehicle more than anyone else.

While trucks play a vital role on construction sites they can present a hazard that workers as well as drivers need to be aware of.

The greatest concern for construction workers related to trucks on site is the danger that these vehicles may crash into objects and people or topple over, crushing people in the process. This is why loading and unloading should only be done on solid, firm and even surfaces and the truck should be loaded evenly to prevent it from capsizing. It is also why a good traffic management plan should be developed and practiced on every construction site.

Because trucks on site often load and unload several times a day onto the same area to create elevated surfaces known as stockpiles, there is a good chance of them tipping over.Drivers loading and unloading their trucks on these elevated or uneven surfaces are at risk of a roll over.

The dump truck operating on unstable ground created by a stockpile can cause fatal accidents.It is best to dump a load at least one truck length away from the pile, however not all drivers stick to this rule.

Adverse weather conditions are another concern for vehicles that load and unload because they can make the ground even more unstable. Rainy and wet conditions can cause landslides on stockpiles. Pedestrians should remain clear of stockpiles while trucks are dumping as drivers cannot see what’s happening behind the truck and a number of pedestrians have been run over in this manner in the past.

Always remember to:

  • Drive cautiously especially when carrying a load and look out for pedestrians.
  • Reduce Speed in Poor Travelling Conditions and stick to the site’s speed limits and routes designed for vehicles.
  • Beware of pedestrians, remain in the correct zoned areas
  • And abide by truck load limitations to avoid capsizing


53 Australians Killed at Work in the Past Four Months

It seems that the construction industry is not doing enough to combat workplace accidents which lead to injuries and fatalities, if statistics provided by Safe Work Australia are anything to go by.

A recent report on the latest fatality figures for Oz revealed that 53 Aussies have been killed at work in the past 4 months.

The latest statistics have been published on Safe Work Australia’s website, which shows that this year already 14 workers in the construction industry have died on the job, followed by 12 workers from the agricultural industry.

The construction industry has been identified as one of the highest risk industries and these high mortality figures prove this.

Every month Safe Work Australia releases the number of fatalities across Australia broken down by industry and the worst affected industries this year so far are construction, agriculture, transport and manufacturing respectively.

From these figures it is hoped that people in these industries pay more attention to workplace health and safety. It also helps us to evaluate the state of WHS in Oz and whether efforts to encourage safety are working and actually helping to reduce deaths in these high risk sectors.

Visit for more information on the statistics and latest fatality report.


White Card Update: Construction Worker Trapped in Trench for 4 Hours

An incident that happened in New York recently is an example of the type of accident that construction workers dread. Firefighters in New York battled to pull a man trapped in a subway construction project from a trench, covered in mud, out of the hole and to safety. They took hours to free the worker who had to be hoisted out of the subway trench on a stretcher.

According to a post on the worker was trapped 75 to 100 feet below ground level in the trench. The incident occurred during the evening and lasted until after midnight.

The article below was taken from and explains further:

trench_rescue_0319Firefighters and paramedics were lined up at street level to receive the worker. Once he arrived, firefighters planned to hose and wash him down, as it was not clear what kind of contaminants may have been in the subway tunnel mud, officials said.

The worker was trapped 75 to 100 feet below grade level in a block-long trench, Sandberg reported.

Just after midnight, the worker’s condition was downgraded to serious, and conditions at the scene also deteriorated as the temperature dropped. Firefighters were cutting sheets of plywood at the scene in an effort to shore up the wet, muddy trench, Sandberg reported.

The plywood sheets and two-by-fours were used to dig into the slippery mud in an effort to get the worker out, Sandberg reported.

The rescue effort began around 8:30 p.m., and more than 100 firefighters were sent to the scene.

Three firefighters were injured during the rescue effort – one with a broken hand, and another wheeled away on a stretcher with unspecified injuries. There was no information on the injuries to the third firefighter.

Two of the firefighters were taken to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Sandberg reported.

Firefighters used a ladder that was poised over an open hole in the pavement, trying to rappel down to the worker, Sandberg reported.

An added threat to the trapped construction worker’s safety was the weather. The man almost caught hypothermia because it was so cold and he was trapped in mud, till after midnight.

Working in wet conditions is one of the biggest causes of trench instability because as the ground becomes moremoist it also becomes less stable. Poor stability combined with the work processes involved with construction such as use of heavy machinery can be a recipe for disaster.

Before engaging in trench work these risks should be taken into account. Workers should never engage in trench work unless supervised or in the presence of a co-worker who can raise the alarm if something goes wrong.

Even before beginning trench and excavation work, the person responsible for the site should obtain as much information as they can relating to the site’s ground conditions.

Once the ground’s condition has been identified employers need to decide on the system of ground support they will use. They will also need to consider weather conditions as well as the proximity of in-ground services.