3 Tower Complex for Old ABC Toowong Site

radical design 3 towers
Caption: Radical design of Toowong 3 towers
Source: BrisbaneTimes.com.au

Three residential buildings in the shape of champagne flutes will radically transform the old ABC Toowong site and Brisbane’s skyline.

Construction on the towers is expected to begin at the end of the year.

The development is expected to cost $430 million and will allow the public access to the former ABC site.

The design of the towers is a first for Brisbane and Australia.

Read more here.



HIA-CSR Australian Home of the Year Award goes to WA builders

Would You Live Here?

Winning home by Gransden Construction
Source: PropertyObserver.com.au

WA Builders Gransden Construction have won the HIA-CSR Australian Home of the Year Award, as well as the Custom Built Home of the Year Award.

The winning home pictured above is based in Perth, in a  suburb called Bedfordale. The house features high-level remote-controlled windows, sliding glass doors, and louvered and sashless windows to allow cross-flow ventilation.The home is fitted with fibre optic lighting throughout and a 20m heated swimming pool.

See more here.



Stress Management for Construction Workers

foreign-construction-workerManaging stress has become an issue that we in the construction industry must address if we are to reduce suicides, improve safety and boost productivity on work sites.

Factors such as a heavy workload, traveling,  having responsibility for the safety of others, working long hours and the high risk involved with construction work sometimes brings more stress than other workplaces.

Addressing stress similarly to other risks is one way of tackling the issue…

  • Step 1: Identify the hazards
  • Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Step 3: Evaluate the risk and take action
  • Step 4: Record your findings
  • Step 5: Monitor and review

More tips on stress management here.


Chart Shows How Much Taller Buildings Have Gotten

chart tallest buildings
Source: Vox.com

A chart of the world’s tallest buildings in 1884, made by George F. Cram in the 1880s, was posted on Vox.com.

In the article the tallest building recorded is the Washington Monument, at 555 feet tall which was under construction and dedicated in 1885.

Nowadays buildings are much higher with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world reaching 2,717 feet.

Read more here.

White Card Update: Falling Hazard Prevalent on Construction Sites

A teenager has suffered head injuries after a bad fall from a roof in New South Wales.  The young man may have been involved in construction work being done on the roof of a home when the incident occurred.

SafetyCulture.com.au reported:

Workcover is investigating an accident last week where a teenager sustained head injuries after falling from the roof of a home at Stanwell Tops, north of Wollongong.

 The 14-year-old boy was taken to Sydney’s St George Hospital in a serious condition after falling three metres.

 A hospital spokeswoman says the teenager is in a stable condition.

 A Workcover spokesman says two workers were carrying out roof work when the accident happened.

 New South Wales Police are also investigating.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/nsw-teenager-falls-three-metres-from-roof/

When working on construction sites, especially when working from roofs or heights the danger of falling is a serious one which can result in injury or death.







Image Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/man-killed-in-roof-collapse-at-sunnybank/story-e6freoof-1226365636827

Another fall incident resulted in a hefty fine for a roofing company. The company was found negligent of safety breaches resulting in the fall of a worker after failing to provide sufficient roof edge protection. The worker was seriously injured during the incident.

An article on Au.new.yahoo.com reported:

An Auckland roofing firm has been ordered to pay over $50,000 for its safety failings after a staff member fell from a roof, fracturing his back.

In the Auckland District Court on Thursday a judge ordered Metalcraft Industries to pay a fine of $43,000 and reparations of $10,000 after an employee fell three metres from a one storey building while on the job.

The man slipped and fell while trying to secure a safe hold on a damp edge of a roof on a Glen Innes home, a statement from the Department of Labour (DOL) said.

He fractured his lower back, several ribs and injured his shoulder.

A DOL investigation found the fall could have been prevented if Metalcraft Industries had put in place roof edge protection for its three staff members working on the house.

“We expect everyone with staff or contractors working at height to actively manage this significant hazard,” northern general manager John Howard said.

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/queensland/a/-/latest/13771117/roofing-firm-to-pay-53k-for-workers-fall/

What can be done to prevent falls?

A fall from any height can result in injury or even death so a system of risk management is the best approach to address the issue. The system includes identifying, assessing and controlling the risk   or planning fall protection at the design stage of the construction project.

Falls from heights are the most common cause of death on building and construction sites, so developing and following a safe system of work is essential.

Step 1: Identify the hazards.  This could include for example: Working on a slippery or unstable surface or an elevated level.

Step 2: Assess the risk by taking the following elements into account:

  • Height at which the task is being performed
  • Condition of the supporting surface
  • The surface below the workers and the injury they could cause if fallen upon. Eg. unsheeted floor bearers and joists that could cause serious injury
  • Amount of experience the worker involved has
  • Weather conditions of outdoor sites
  • The duration of the task

Step 3: Control the risk

Fall protection measures should be developed to suit the particular task and the severity of the risk. In developing emergency procedures, the different types of emergency and rescue scenarios that might arise should be considered.

Eliminate the hazard

Working on the ground is the most effective method of protecting workers from fall hazards. This is not always possible, so the hazard has to be managed.

Substitute with a safer surface

Use temporary work platforms such as properly erected scaffolds or elevated work platforms.

Isolate the hazard

Use physical barriers to protect workers from falls.

Engineering controls

Use “work positioning” systems that will position and safely support a worker at the location where the task is to be performed.

Administrative controls

Administrative controls require a high level of training and supervision to be effective and are often supported with other fall protection measures. Eg. Use of warning signs to warn workers of falling hazard.

Personal protective equipment

Use personal protective equipment to minimise injury in the event of a fall. Make sure workers are trained on correct use of PPE.

Importance of White Card Training to Prevent Falls on Construction Sites

The unions are claiming that self-regulation in the construction industry is leading to a number of fatalities on building sites as a result of falls. Unions are subsequently calling for stricter safety regulations and enforcement to stop construction workers falling and dying as a result on worksites. The union warns that more deaths should be expected unless self-regulation is done away with.

According to Safe Work Australia falls from heights are a major cause of injury and death on Australian worksites. Some worksites are more prone than others, construction being one of them.

According to Safe Work Australia, there are 800,000 workers in Oz that work at heights. These workers including tradespeople, maintenance and cleaning workers are at risk of suffering a fatal fall and statistics show that on average 26 of them fall to their deaths every year. Also an additional 8000 are injured annually.

According to the secretary of Working At Heights Association, Gordon Cadzow regulators aren’t enforcing the safety standards which is why this is the second most common cause of death in the injury. As he explains there needs to be someone to enforce the law, because companies cannot be trusted to self-regulate. He explains that falling from heights gives victims no second chance.

A lack of safety regulations particularly relating to fall protection, is resulting in a number of incidents, many of which prove to be fatal. People who work from heights are dependent upon fall protection systems made up of ropes and anchors to remain safe. When these systems are ignored or neglected by employers, workers are basically going in unarmed.

Experts say that although there is a certification system in place to protect workers that work from heights, it is “hopelessly unreliable and unregulated” and abseil anchor points are often untested which places workers at risk.

According to one industry expert, Peter Ferguson from the Australian Rope Access Association people are being allowed to get away with not applying the rules. As he explains the rules are in place but they prove pointless because they aren’t being enforced or policed, leaving too much room for mishaps.

Some industry insiders are finding that fall protection may be implemented, even certified but they aren’t effective, in fact some may prove faulty.

People in the industry are calling for WorkCover or an accreditation body to conduct site inspections and to threaten companies with penalties in order for them to comply with the rules.

Ladders still a major Risk

One of the biggest risks it seems when it comes to falling on work sites applies to falls from ladders. According to statistics at least 90 per cent of the ladders utilised in Australia aren’t up to Australian standards.

The regulator has been approached and asked to address this issue but nothing has been done, the unions say this lack of action will result in more unnecessary and preventable fatalities due to falls from heights.

Workplace Death from Ladder Fall

In 2012 a Melbourne based plumber was killed when he fell from a ladder on a construction site. The man was working from the ladder at the time and following his death and an investigation, the Victoria Coroners Court found that the ladder was defective and unsafe for work.

The plumber’s friends and family say that he should still be alive and would have been if the correct ladder had been used.

This tragic incident is an example of what can happen when defective equipment is used and in fact when work from heights is not properly controlled and regulated.

One of the most important considerations when it comes to work from heights, particularly in the construction environment is that all workers have received the necessary training.

The general construction safety course also known as the white card course teaches workers the basics of safe work from heights. Workers learn the dos and don’ts of work from heights as well as the rights and responsibilities on the construction site. That is part of the reason why this White Card training is mandatory for all construction workers because at some point in their career they will be required to work from a height.

Unions say state regulators aren’t acting on Safety Issues

The unions say that despite the numerous fall from height fatalities, state workplace regulators aren’t stepping up and acting on the issue. They are calling for more policing of the work from height sector.

Regulators may be suffering from a lack of funding such as Victoria’s WorkCover authority WorkSafe who have had their funding cut by almost $500 million.



Beware of Traffic on Construction Sites

An accident which happened on a mining site last year is a reminder of the need for adequate traffic management on work sites. The results of the investigation into the incident were just released, indicating that the light motor vehicle involved was at fault.

The accident took place at BHP’s Mt. Arthur Coal Mine last year and has been under investigation. A report was recently released by the Mine Safety Investigation Unit who discovered that the driver of the light motor vehicle had in fact been negligent of the site’s safety protocols which resulted in a collision with a dozer on the site.

This is also a reminder of why anyone involved in Mining construction must undergo the necessary general safety training, in Australia this training is known as The White Card course.

Anyone who engages in work in the construction industry, including mining construction must undergo White Card training to ensure that they are aware of the hazards presented by this type of work site. It is also important because mining construction is one of the most high risk industries in Australia, but despite the risks it is a popular sector because of the rewards and financial benefits it has to offer.

As the driver of the bulldozer found out, on a work site the actions of others can have serious implications for you and vice versa. The mistakes of one person can impact another or the entire site which is why the federal government has made White Card training compulsory for everyone in construction related industries.

For example if you are a construction vehicle operator or driver, even when you are sticking to the site’s traffic plan and basic safety requirements, if another driver isn’t, there is the chance that he/she could crash their vehicle into you or their actions could cause you to crash. That is why you as well as every other worker need to be adequately trained. The most basic of construction safety training is White Card training.

The Mt. Arthur Coal Mine accident was the  fault of the light motor vehicle driver however the bulldozer driver also suffered the repercussions. According to the report the LV driver and dozer operator had discussed the dozer smoothing out the new access ramp while the LV driver waited at the designated parking area until the dozer had completed the job.

However due to an apparent misunderstanding the LV driver began moving the vehicle towards the dozer, believing that the back blading work had been completed. The LV driver tried signalling the dozer operator via the radio but because he was on another radio channel, the communication did not go through.

The report also stated that the LV driver had stopped at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the dozer to stop. When it became evident to the LV driver that the dozer operator was not going to stop, he attempted to engage reverse gear however was unable to do so and began sounding the LV’s horn.

As the dozer moved toward the LV, the LV driver remained in his vehicle. The dozer operator was unaware that the LV had approached within 50m of the dozer and was directly behind the dozer.  The dozer operator who was concentrating on the back blading task did not see the LV as he continued to reverse the dozer.

The report then stated that the dozer reversed 2.5m over the passenger’s side of the LV with its left hand track before stopping and moving forward. Luckily the driver of the LV managed to escape without injury.

In a situation such this one proper planning should have preceded the task. For example the vehicles should have been on the same radio channel so that communication was possible during the operation. Operators should have been trained to do this before beginning such tasks. Some of the other recommended measures include:

  • Having designated roads and access areas on the site for LV use only.
  • Use of proximity detection and/or collision avoidance technology
  • Better traffic planning and management of LV ad heavy machinery interactions

On any type of construction site traffic management is a crucial part of the safety planning. This incident is just one of a possible countless number of scenarios involving vehicles that can and have taken place on construction and mining sites and these operators were extremely lucky that no fatalities took place.

The most important consideration is probably the development of a traffic management plan. An adequate traffic management plan will at the very least:

  • Separate vehicle traffic and pedestrians
  • Use barriers to keep pedestrians and traffic apart
  • Provide separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible
  • Provide signage at crossing points and ensure these are properly lit.
  • When exiting the site, make sure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it