White Card Incident Update: Tower Crane Jib Collapse in East London

A construction incident has occurred in London which is yet another in a series of crane accidents. Cranes have become a cause for concern on construction sites across the world because of the large number of accidents that have occurred recently and the number of people that have been injured.

But this is not just a foreign problem, Oz has had its share of crane incidents recently as well, with the one in Sydney’s CBD a few months ago gaining international exposure for its severity and the fact that miraculously nobody was injured.

The recent accident in East London occurred when the job of a tower crane collapsed onto a partially built residential project. The crane incident was very costly because the expensive residential scheme suffered damage which would set the builders work back quite a bit. Thankfully there were no injuries because it could have easily resulted in a fatality.

Read what happened below from a post on www.craneaccidents.com:

Londoncrane1

The load that was being carried by the crane at the time of the incident fell, still attached to the crane, into the canal adjacent to the site.

An eyewitness told Building that he heard a loud bang, followed by workers leaving the site. “They [the workers] said the crane had fallen down so it is very lucky no one was injured,” he added.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was aware of the incident and was making inquiries.

The Paul Davis and Partners-designed scheme at 21 Wapping Lane comprises five buildings, including an 18 storey tower, with 385 residential units, together with retail, leisure and community uses.

According to construction information provider Barbour ABI the project is worth £173m.

http://www.craneaccidents.com/2013/03/report/tower-crane-jib-collapses/

It is important that when conducting crane operations certain considerations are taken into account.

  • Sufficient clearance and safe distances between the crane and scaffolding or overhead electric wires
  • it is important to ensure that the raise speed is sufficiently moderate so that contact with structures can be avoided and the dogger has a clear view of both the load and the hook when lifting or lowering the crane hook or load
  • Directions to a crane operator should only ever be given by a licensed dogger, and the assessment should consider the need for a crane coordinator.
  • A system of reliable communication is required between the crane operator and the doggers who are essentially the eyes and ears of the crane operator

Another issue that should never be neglected is that of training. Workers need to undergo white card training as well as site specific training in addition to the specialised training required for dangerous tasks such as crane operation.

 

Survey Shows Construction Industry Up

A construction industry survey has revealed that the house building industry has recorded its best results in almost 3 years. This is good news for workers in the construction industry and good news for young people wishing to enter the industry. Read what this post from Abc.net.au had to say about the survey’s findings:

195124-3x2-340x227The Australian Industry Group – Housing Industry Association’s Performance of Construction Index (PCI), based on a survey of around 150 companies, jumped 9.4 points to 45.6.

That is the highest reading since June 2010, although it is still below the 50-point level that separates expansion from contraction.

February’s improvement in construction activity was driven by a surge in house building, which leapt 15.4 points to 51.5, the first expansion for this sub-sector since May 2010.

Apartment building also recorded a higher index reading in February than the month before, but remains in contraction at 42.2.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-07/construction-posts-best-result-in-years/4557890?section=business

Although this is good news for the building industry, prospective construction workers need to be prepared before entering the construction world. This can be done by undergoing the construction general safety training in the form of the White Card.

The construction industry can be an extremely rewarding one however it is also one filled with hazards due to the nature of the work and work environment. In fact this year so far has not been a good one for safety in the Australian construction industry, with quite a few workers losing their lives and others suffering serious injuries, even more than in other industries. These types of incidents make white card training even more vital, in addition to the fact that it is a pre-requisite under state law.

Workers need to be appropriately trained for their own safety, the safety of their co-workers and for the good of the site in addition to it being a mandatory requirement. That includes site specific training as well as general construction safety training.

Site specific training will teach new workers entering the construction site how to work safely on that specific site and the hazards that are unique to the site. It will also teach them important lessons like emergency procedures for the site and reporting procedures etc.

General safety training, also known as the white card is vital to all workers on a construction site in Oz and will equip workers with the knowledge to operate safely when confronted with the common hazards that occur in the construction industry.

The white card can be conveniently obtained online. The course can be completed where and when it is convenient for you from the comfort of your own home or office and the certificate is nationally recognised. The course is easy to follow and presented in a user-friendly way.

Workers are trained on everything you need to know about working safely on a construction site as well as how to protect yourself and your co-workers from harm.

The biggest advantage that workers gain by completing their white card course is that it provides them with the basic knowledge of the hazards that they will be confronted with on building sites and also provides an understanding of how to safely overcome them.

 

Company Fined for High-Risk Work without Appropriate Licence

Companies that engage in high risk work without the appropriate licence have come under the spotlight following an incident where a company allowed a 16 year old apprentice boilermaker to engage in dangerous work including dogging without the appropriate dogging licence. In fact even the worker supervising the apprentice was not in possession of his/her dogging license.

A $10,000 fine was issued to an engineering firm for allowing workers to perform high risk work without the appropriate licence. The company pleaded guilty to 2 charges relating to workers engaging in dogging work without being certified to do so.

The 16 year old apprentice was being taught dogging work and was carrying out various dangerous dogging tasks, yet high risk work licences cannot be given to anybody under 18 years old. And what made the incident even more serious is that none of the workers engaging in dogging work on the site had a dogging licence. The young worker also suffered a terrible injury in his hand resulting in the amputation of a few of his fingers.

Not only does an incident of this nature risk workers lives, but the injuries have implications for the future, the apprentice will have to adapt to life and work without his middle and index fingers which will most likely impact his ability to do certain jobs and tasks in the future. Not only would this incident have resulted in emotional scars and physical ones for the worker but he will also most likely suffer many difficulties just going about his daily life.

Read this post from SafetyCulture.com.au that explains further:

worksafe-wa-logo-large1The crane operator at the engineering company’s yard had been teaching a 16 year old apprentice boilermaker dogging wok that included slinging and directing loads.

In September 2011 the apprentice was assigned to do dogging work when some steel was being moved and was supervised by the crane operator while he was directing the crane towards piles of steel and then slinging loads.

When ready the load would be lifted the height of the apprentice’s chest and he would then use his hands to guide the load.

The next day the apprentice was slinging a load of three steel beams to be placed in timber gluts however when the load reached its destination there was a jolt as the apprentice reached for the gluts.

The result was that one of the beams rolled and the right hand of the apprentice was trapped between the beams, his right index and middle fingers were amputated to the middle knuckles.

When the incident was investigated by WorkSafe WA they found that none of the workers at the site held a dogging licence even though a number had undertaken dogging work and the crane operator had trained the apprentice.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/02/lack-of-high-risk-licence-means-fine-for-engineering-firm/

New and young workers such as apprentices seem to be getting the short end of the stick recently with many injuries and a death of an apprentice being reported this year already. Employers definitely need to be more careful about how they train apprentices and ensure that they are suitable qualified and certified for the job.

The first priority and most important training that workers, need to undergo is the White Card training which will teach them what they need to know about general hazards on a construction site.When engaging in certain high risk activities such as dogging, the law requires workers to be in possession of additional certificates of competency.

They also need to be trained on the hazards specific to the site and supervised when engaging in dangerous activities. Perhaps if these laws were followed, the apprentice in the story above would not have suffered the loss of his fingers.

 

Apprentice Plumber Injured After Falling from Height

Yet another apprentice worker has been injured while working from an elevated platform repairing damage to a ceiling. The 17 year old apprentice plumber fell through the roof of a shopping centre in Bathurst, resulting in his hospitalisation at Bathurst Base Hospital.

Although the full details of the incident have not yet been released, this is yet another case of how vulnerable young people are on construction sites and in the trade industries especially when left unsupervised.

Read more about the incident below with a post from SafetyCulture.com.au:

young-worker-150x150

WorkCover NSW is investigating an incident today where an apprentice plumber plunged three-and-a-half meters after falling through a roof at a Bathurst shopping centre.

The 17-year-old man fell from an elevated platform while repairing damage to a ceiling.

The teenager was admitted to Bathurst Base Hospital but has since been released.

A Work Cover inspector attended the accident site this afternoon.  The safety watchdog is continuing its investigations into the incident.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/nsw-plumber-falls-from-elevated-work-platform/

The 2 most important issues associated with hiring young workers is training them sufficiently and supervising them. Although trained, young people should never just be left to their own devices no matter how busy the site may be or how well you think they know the job. Young people need to be supervised because they have not yet developed the skills and experience needed to keep themselves safe on site.

Following all the incidents involving apprentice tradespeople this year while on the job, WorkCover NSW has issued a reminder to businesses to ensure the safety of these young and inexperienced workers.

According to the General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division John Watson, young workers are often in their first job and require supervision and assistance. Especially at this time of year we have a number of new workers entering the worksite that have just finished school and started working, these young people are not only new to the trade but new to work in general and for this reason they need to be protected.

Watson says that workers aged below 25 may be more vulnerable to workplace safety risks because of their youth and inexperience or reluctance to speak up about safety concerns. In NSW 12 per cent of workplace injuries occur among young workers, even though they only make up a small percentage of the workforce.

According to an article on SafetyCulture.com.au, WorkCover NSW provided the following advice for employers regarding the safety of young workers:

For employers:

Provide adequate training and supervision in all tasks

Provide a comprehensive induction

Identify safety risks and put in place procedures to reduce and control the risks

Encourage open communication about safety issues

For young workers:

Follow all safety procedures and ask questions if uncertain

Report any risks and hazards to a supervisor or colleague

Use safety equipment and protective clothing if needed

Do not fool around with machinery

Find out how to report an injury

Read more at: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/workcover-nsw-ensure-safety-of-young-workers/

 

SafeWork NT issues Tilt Cab Safety Alert

Heavy vehicles and trucks are common fixtures on construction sites because they are invaluable for transporting loads, making the task of workers a little bit easier. But sometimes a useful tool can become an unsuspected and dangerous threat to workers.

SafeWork Northern Territory has just issued a safety alert to make workers aware of the dangers of maintaining work vehicles and machinery. It is crucial that all safety mechanisms are engaged before beginning any maintenance on this equipment to avoid serious injuries or death. Although maintenance work has to be done to ensure these vehicles remain in good working order and safe, the very act of maintaining these machines can be hazardous.

SafeWork was prompted to issue an alert after a worker who was engaging in maintenance work in the engine compartment of a truck died after the cab fell back onto him. The particularly model of vehicle required a locking pin to be inserted into the cab support in order for it to be secured and prevent it from falling back down. In this instance, the worker either did not insert the locking pin or it became dislodged accidentally, either way it resulted in tragedy. Read what happed below with a post from SafetyCulture.com.au:

SafeWork NT has issued a safety alert to remind workers and person’s conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU’s) to properly engage all safety mechanisms before undertaking maintenance work on vehicles and machinery.

Background

A station hand carrying out maintenance work in the engine compartment of a truck received fatal injuries when the cab fell back onto him.

The truck, a Mitsubishi FV418, requires the cab to be tilted up and forward to access the engine compartment. When the cab is tilted forward, a cab support is extended and engaged to hold the tilted cab in place. A locking pin is required to be inserted into the cab support to prevent the cab support from being accidentally disengaged and falling back into place.

Contributing factors

The locking pin was either dislodged or not inserted, allowing the cab support to disengage.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/02/nt-safety-alert-securing-raised-tilt-cabs/

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Cab support with locking mechanism in place

Photo Source: http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/SafetyAlerts/SiteAssets/Lists/Posts/NewPost/SA201304.pdf

It is quite surprising that something as small as a locking pin is enough to prevent the big cab from falling and crushing a worker. Although it is so small and seemingly insignificant, without it workers are endangering their lives, as this tragedy proves. The alert by SafeWork went on to describe the steps that should be taken to avoid this kind of incident in the future.

Action required

  • Before undertaking any maintenance on vehicles or machinery workers should refer to the vehicle or machinery operating manual and follow all safety instructions.
  • All safety mechanisms should be engaged and checked before the commencement of maintenance work on vehicles or machinery.
  • PCBU’s concerned with the suitability of the inbuilt safety mechanism should consider, in consultation with the manufacturer, additional safety mechanisms such as:
  • Using additional cab struts to secure the cab
  • Using a cotter pin or similar restraint to secure the locking pin if there are concerns it can be easily dislodged

Contact Details

For further information please contact NT WorkSafe on 1800 019 115 or go to www.worksafe.nt.gov.au

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/02/nt-safety-alert-securing-raised-tilt-cabs/

 

Alert Issued: Fire Risk of Mobile Cranes

The recent crane incident in Sydney has led WorkCover NSW to issue a safety alert to advise officers and workers about the risk of fires breaking out when tower cranes are used for the sites operations.

Watch the video below of the incident in Sydney that prompted WorkCover NSW to issue the alert:

Link http://youtu.be/WzDCOTKKxhc

As you can tell from the video, the results could have been devastating. Luckily no one was injured in the surrounding area and the crane operator also managed to make it out in one piece. Some good has come from the incident in that crane safety around Oz has come under the spotlight, forcing companies and operators to tighten their safety measures.

WorkCover NSW joined in the concern over crane safety in Sydney and has issued this safety alert to warn workers, operators and others of the potential dangers of working with cranes.

The investigation into the incident found that a number of factors have contributed to incident. The aim of the safety alert according to WorkCover is to provide advice on inspections and possible modifications to control the risks.

The information below provided by WorkCover on their website is for both diesel hydraulic cranes and electric tower cranes:

During a fire on the machine deck of a diesel/hydraulic powered luffing tower crane the luff rope failed, allowing the jib to collapse onto the worksite below. Fortunately there were no injuries as the worksite had been evacuated and the jib fell into the evacuated worksite, rather than into a populated area.

The incident appears to have resulted from the fire heating the luff rope and weakening it to the point where it could no longer support the jib and consequently failed. The fire could have been fuelled by the diesel fuel or the hydraulic fluid used to power the crane motions, however at this stage the ignition source has not been identified.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

There are a number of potential contributing factors on the machine deck to the fire starting and then continuing for sufficient time to damage the rope.

  • Quantities of combustible liquid, diesel and hydraulic fluid, in tanks and being pumped in high pressure lines and hoses.
  • A diesel engine which provides a number of potential ignition sources.
  • An electrical system which provides a number of potential ignition sources.
  • A diesel engine and hydraulic pump and motors whose failure could result in a loss of significant quantities of combustible liquid.

Read more: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/formspublications/publications/Pages/risks-associated-with-fire-on-cranes-safety-alert.aspx

WorkCover went on to suggest that employers responsible for crane use ensure risks to the health and safety of workers (as well as visitors to the site or surrounding it) is minimised as much as possible.

In addition to the safety measures regarding crane operations in particular, the alert also warned employers and principal contractors about the importance of a site evacuation plan and the need for effective communication systems in order to have safe evacuations.

Principal contractors should review their site evacuation plans and communication systems and revise them if necessary. Also the law requires principal contractors to test all emergency procedures to ensure they are efficient.

You can read all the safety measures proposed by WorkCover on their website www.workcover.nsw.gov.au

 

Fire on Building Site kills 10

A fire broke out on a Russian building site, killing 10 people and injuring a further 13. The construction workers, who were residing on the building site, we injured when the fire broke out while they were staying there, not while engaged in work. There have been concerns about the attention to safety on Russian sites where authorities are often bribed to turn a blind eye to safety breaches which is evidently costing workers more than anyone else.

This post from FoxNews.com explains:

Russian authorities say a fire broke out in the basement parking lot of a new building in Moscow, killing ten and leaving thirteen injured.

The Interior Ministry said the victims were construction workers who were living in the building at the time.

The Interfax news agency reports that Tashir Construction was responsible for the building’s completion, which was due in June 2012. However, company spokeswoman Marina Gaze is quoted by the agency as saying the construction work was complete. She denied that the victims were company employees, and said the company would have to “clarify” who they were and why they were there.

The high death toll in Saturday’s fire underscores lax safety standards that have become commonplace in a country where bribery is widespread and regulations rarely enforced.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/26/10-construction-workers-die-in-moscow-building-fire/?test=latestnews#ixzz2JGu31tNV

Although safety on Australian sites is of a significantly higher standard than those in Russia, it is still worth recapping on what to do in the event of such as emergency.

It is the responsibility of employers to provide workers with a safe system of work and safe environment which includes providing them with appropriate emergency response procedures to follow. Workers must be trained on what to do in this emergency.

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Workers should be trained on the correct procedure for an emergency evacuation. This will include specifying the location of first aid, evacuation assembly points, emergency phone numbers and anything else you need to know about the specific sites emergency policies.  Site inductions are mandatory under OHS regulations and workers must pay attention to them and comply with the site’s policies.

According to legislature construction employers need to have emergency response plans in place that are site specific and consider all stages of the construction project in its inception. Another important aspect to consider is the ability and ease of emergency services accessing the point of the emergency. Employers must consider all possible scenarios and develop a control strategy for each such as what to do in the event of:

 

  • Fires
  • plant and vehicle rollovers
  • contact with overhead powerlines
  • excavation collapses
  • scaffold/structure,trench or building collapse
  • sudden incapacity and immobilisation of workers
  • Natural disasters

If workers are not trained on what to do in an emergency, confusion could make an already bad situation worse. It is human nature to panic and this can result in even more injuries and damage to property, that is why training workers is vital and even holding drills occasionally so that staff can familiarise themselves further with these procedures so that if an incident does occur, evacuation can take place smoothly and without further incident.. This will include routes to take in an emergency such as a fire, who to call, where to gather etc.

Remember that in the event of a fire or similar incident, self-preservation is the most important thing, if you get to safety you can be of more help than if you endanger your own life, (which you may lose in addition to costing someone else their life as well).

 

Construction Vehicle Safety Update

By zigazou76

A number of safety incidents occur each year which involve workers being crushed or run over by construction vehicles. There are a number of reasons why these incidents occur but it is important that principal contractors manage the risk these massive and potentially destructive machines present to worker safety.

These are the most commonly occurring construction vehicles which also commonly cause incidents on site:

Bulldozers/ Excavators

Bulldozers are also called excavators and are equipped with a large blade in front that is sharp enough to cut through the earth and push things forward. If they can cut through thick rock imagine what they can do to human flesh?

Because these vehicles are used to break through rock, dirt and concrete and move the materials across the ground to another area they are extremely strong and deadly to a human. The front blade can also lift the materials up from the ground and deposit the items to another area. These vehicles can injure people by running them over, crushing them between the vehicle and a hard surface or severely injuring them with the large front blade.

Concrete Mixer and Dump Trucks

Trucks and vans are extremely useful for construction contractors and workers which is why they are so common in the construction industry. They provide an easy way to transport goods from the manufacturer to the site or around the site and to transport debris to dump sites. The flatbed portion of the truck can hold and transport a variety of items used on construction sites, including small machines, jackhammers, tools, wooden planks, bags of cement, drywall and flooring.

The high capacity and strong horsepower of trucks make it easier to haul these heavy items.Due to the fact that dump trucksload and unload several times a day onto the same area to create elevated surfaces known as stockpiles, there is the chance of them tipping over.When drivers load and unload their trucks on these elevated or uneven surfaces it is very dangerous as the vehicle can topple or roll over. The dump truck operating on the unstable ground created by a stockpile can cause fatal accidents.

Concrete Mixers

The concrete mixer is another important vehicle used in construction but can also be a source of injury and even death to workers. It is equipped with a large cone-shaped structure with the cone points upward at a 45-degree angle at the back. The concrete and water are added to the inside of the cone and turns until the concrete is thoroughly mixed. Once sufficiently mixed the driver positions the truck at the desired location where concrete is needed and pours the mixture through an apparatus at the back of the vehicle. Most of the injuries related to concrete mixers occur at this point when the vehicle is reversing to get into position or pouring out its load.

Dump Trucks

The work done on a construction site results in a lot of debris. This debris has to be removed at the end of the project which makes dump trucks so necessary. The backhoe or bulldozer operator loads the dump truck with unwanted materials. When full, the dump truck driver takes the load to an approved location to unload the trash and debris. Most of the incidents that occur with dump trucks are as a result of workers being run over on site.

Follow these safety tips when working near a heavy vehicle or when operating one:

  • Drive with extreme caution at all times on site but especially when carrying a load.
  • Reduce speed in poor travelling conditions and on site adhere to speed limits.
  • Beware of pedestrians because construction sites are busy places, remain in the correct zoned areas
  • Abide by truck load limitations to avoid capsizing and ensure other workers who load the vehicle do the same.
  • Maintain good visibility at all times and don’t proceed if this is not possible.
  • Be trained on emergency procedures such as when equipment fails or bad weather conditions prevail.

 

Be Prepared for Environmental Hazards

grimmsby mould 11-06 001

An example of mould on a wall

Source: http://www.pressdispensary.co.uk/releases/c992542/Toxic-Mould-and-Construction-Defects-Harming-Public-Health.html

When working on a building site, especially a renovation site the chance of being affected by environmental hazards is great. The most commonly occurring environmental hazards are mould, asbestos and lead.

While a lot of attention is given to asbestos and occasionally lead, mould is something that is often ignored by construction workers which can be damaging to their health.

The height of asbestos use was between 1930 and 1950, when it was commonly used in the production of insulation for mechanical and plumbing system components such as pipes, duct, boilers, and tanks. It was also used as an ingredient in insulation and for decorative purposes on ceilings and walls. As a fire-retardant insulation, it was used on structural beams and firewalls, and in fire doors.  Long term asbestos exposure can lead to incurable diseases such as Mesothelioma, Pleural disease and Asbestosis.

Lead is a naturally occurring highly toxic metal found throughout the environment and created by human activities such as burning fossil fuel, mining, and manufacturing. It has many different uses, including use in the production of batteries, ammunition, metal products like solder and pipe, and devices to shield X-rays. Because of health concerns, lead from paints and ceramic products and pipe solder has been substantially cut. The primary sources of lead exposure to humans in the daily environment are deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust.  But do not panic, lead paint in good condition is not a cause for concern unless it’s loose, flaking, or forming dust.

Moulds and mildew are microscopic fungi that grow on surfaces where there is an organic food source. Many of the construction materials used, such as wood, carpet, glue, and cellulose-based objects like ceiling panels and drywall, are hosts for indoor mould growth. Thousands of species of mould exists and when inhaled or ingested by humans it can be dangerous. Understanding the impact of moisture and mould on building materials and the construction process is integral to developing good design and construction practices.

Most types of mould are not hazardous to healthy individuals. However, excessive exposure to mould may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever or other allergies. The most common symptoms of overexposure are cough, congestion, runny nose, eye irritation and aggravation of asthma. Depending on the amount of exposure and an individual’s vulnerability, more serious health effects such as fever and breathing problems can occur.

All moulds need water to grow. Mould can grow almost anywhere there is water damage, high humidity or dampness. Most often moulds are confined to areas near the source of water. Removing the source of moisture is vital to preventing mould growth.

 

UK Site left workers exposed to Asbestos due to Poor Planning

A UK construction site carelessly left its workers exposed to asbestos fibres because of a lack of planning, as ruled by the court. The Swansea site was the source of a demolition and refurbishment project which should have determined beforehand whether asbestos was present on the site because of the prevalence of asbestos fibres on older renovation sites. The company in charge were also guilty of putting an untrained and unqualified staff member in charge of the operation. Australian contractors can learn a lesson from the incident about proper planning and the need for trained supervisors to be put in charge on sites especially supervisors trained to handle the hazards present, such as asbestos.

Read this post on Theconstructionindex.co.uk which explains what happens and the court’s ruling:

270x180_1357889585_asbestos-danger-signThe client had two asbestos management surveys for the site, which, although later deemed to be inadequate, identified the presence of asbestos material and highlighted other areas, such as the ceiling voids, which were presumed to contain asbestos.

Despite this, work was allowed to begin even though Oaktree had been advised by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that a separate ‘refurbishment and demolition survey’ was also required before any activity started.

During the demolition works an asbestos insulation board (AIB) covering a steel column was damaged, and a Wall Colmonoy employee was told to tape plastic bags around it. Work continued in the building for several months with the AIB debris left lying on the floor until an unannounced visit was carried out by an HSE inspector.

A subsequent HSE investigation found that Wall Colmonoy failed to appoint a competent construction, design and management (CDM) co-ordinator and principal contractor to plan and manage the construction work, and ignored advice from its own health and safety manager to notify HSE of the demolition phase of the project, as is required by law.

Source: http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/poor-planning-put-lives-at-risk

The good news is that the unions of Australia are leading the fight against asbestos and have successful secured compensation pay-outs for thousands of workers and their families. The unions have recently called for a National Asbestos Authority who can oversee asbestos related issues in the nation. But there is still a long way to go if we are to see zero cases of asbestos related diseases in Australia.

Demolition and renovation work has to be done properly with adequate planning and the appropriately trained and experienced staff in charge. A full risk assessment must be conducted on every work site prior to work beginning.

The post went on to state:

“Had a refurbishment and demolition survey been undertaken, and had a licensed asbestos contractor been used to removal all asbestos materials prior to the work starting, then the risk would have been eliminated. Instead this inadequate response left workers exposed to asbestos fibres, which can cause potentially fatal lung disease. The health and safety of workers must not be left to chance.”

Source: http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/poor-planning-put-lives-at-risk

Workers involved in renovation work should look out for asbestos in the following situations:

  • Within a house or a building site, asbestos is most commonly found in asbestos cement sheeting, also known as ‘fibro’.
  • Asbestos cement sheeting can be found in a flat form in internal and external walls and ceilings. This is why renovators and domestic construction workers often come across this harmful substance when breaking down old buildings or renovating them.
  • A corrugated form of asbestos cement sheeting, also known as ‘super six’ or ‘super eight’, is commonly found on roofs, as fences and sometimes as external wall cladding.
  • Asbestos can also be found in vinyl sheeting and tiles, external gutters, pipes and vents, backing to electrical switchboards in a black product known as zelemite, insulations to heater banks, air conditioning ducting and pipes,  gaskets to pipes and pipe joins, certain paints, brake pads and clutch pads to vehicles, mastics and glues behind wall tiles and vinyl, waterproofing in windows, roof tiles and woven textile seals to old ovens, grillers and kitchen appliances.
  • Asbestos fibres can also be found in hessian carpet underlay recycled from the hessian bags that used to transport asbestos fibres from the mines.