Preventing Falls in Construction – Learning from Others

One of the best ways to learn about safety is to look at the examples, both good and bad set by others within the same industry. When it comes to safety one of the major issues is falls from heights, claiming more lives than any other hazard in the construction industry.

The most problematic issues on construction sites, such as falls from heights are also the most preventable. US Safety experts suggest that when engaging in work from heights, if it cannot be eliminated it therefore must be controlled -there are 3 simple steps to safeguarding workers, they are:

  1. Plan
  2. Provide
  3. Train

On a USA governmental website dedicated to workplace health and safety, experts suggest using this 3 step system to manage fall hazards. Employers should consider using this advice in developing their safety methods and training for their staff engaged in work from ladders, scaffolds, roofs or any heights.

The 3 step system starts as any good construction plan does, with planning ahead of time before the job even begins by anticipating risks and assessing them, thereafter planning how safety is going to be ensured.

When working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds and roofs employers need to plan the tasks first by deciding on how the job will be carried out, what tasks will be implemented and the safety equipment needed for each task.

www.osha.gov goes on to explain about the “planning” stage:

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems…

Read more: https://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html

The next stage of the 3 step system involves providing the right equipment for the job. Workers especially those working above 2 meters high are at risk of serious injury and possible death and in order to protect these workers employers must provide the correct fall protection and the right equipment for the job. That means they must determine whether a ladder or scaffold or other safety gear is needed and providing this equipment to workers. For example there are various different ladders and each has their own risks and merits, determine which are relevant for the task at hand.

The post goes on to explain about the “Providing” stage:

Different ladders and scaffolds are appropriate for different jobs. Always provide workers with the kind they need to get the job done safely. For roof work, there are many ways to prevent falls. If workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect all fall protection equipment to ensure it’s still in good condition and safe to use.

https://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html

The final step in the process is “Training”. This involves training everyone on site to use PPE and safety equipment safely. The guidance on OSHA.gov goes on to explain:

Falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, so they need training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job. Employers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they’ll be using on the job.

https://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html

 

Importance of managing Noise Levels on Construction Sites

Although some construction employers ignore the harm that noise produced by construction processes can do to their workers, it becomes difficult to ignore when even the public begin to complain. This is what a Gladstone construction site is facing after local B&B owners complained about the noise emitted by one construction site who decided to work overtime one night.

In addition to the noise, the neighbors also complained about the light from flood lights which streamed into their property as the construction site attempted to catch up on their work.

Read what happened according to an article on gladstoneobserver.com.au

9-1877442-gla040613cran_t460LOCAL B&B owners Therese and Terry Mitchell are standing up for the rights of their neighbourhood in dealing with Gladstone’s construction boom.

Surrounded by seven projects, the Auckland Hill Corporate Accommodation couple was upset on Monday night when the nearby Hutchinson Builders’ construction site went over time.

“In the rules it is 6.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, which equates to 72 hours a week,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“If building sites have (problems), which they all do, then we as neighbours should not be putting up with it.”

Flood lights from the Auckland St apartment development streamed into their residence and noise continued until about 9.30pm.

The couple called the council’s noise complaint hotline at about 7pm and contacted local councillors.

They also attended yesterday’s council meeting to ensure all members were aware of the issue.

“We are not afraid of standing up for ourselves in what we believe is correct,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“When you are living with continual noise, if we can have one meal a day in silence, and let me tell you silence is golden, if people stick to those guidelines you won’t hear from us.”

Source: http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/owners-fuming-over-late-shifts/1894947/

It should be remembered that hearing protection in construction is as important as any other because deterioration in hearing can affect a workers ability to do their job and to remain safe on site.

Hazardous noise can destroy the ability to hear clearly and make working safely more difficult but it can also harm workers irreparably. In addition to being a nuisance to neighbours, noise can be problematic to safety on site which is why it needs to be managed.

Hearing damage generally occurs gradually over a number of years and is often irreversible which is why the proper control measures need to implemented to deal with the hazard.

By implementing control measures to control risks associated with noise, businesses can protect workers from hearing loss, improve conditions for communication and promote a less stressful and more productive site. Workers exposed to noise for shifts longer than 10 hours are at a greater risk of suffering hearing damage than workers exposed for 8 hours – this knowledge can help employers better protect their workers by altering shifts accordingly so that no worker is excessively exposed to noise hazards.  It is also important that employers do not operate past their regular working hours even if they are behind schedule.

According to WH&S Regulations employers must ensure that safe work practices are implemented and maintained if your workers are at risk of being exposed to great noise levels. That involves developing a noise management plan in cooperation with workers.

 

Construction News: School Evacuated over Asbestos Scare

You know the asbestos crisis has gotten out of hand when it starts affecting schools as it did this week in Victoria. Timboon P-12 school’s future is in question after a number of students and teachers had to be evacuated after asbestos was discovered on the premises. The school had to be shut down and the gates locked so that students were not at risk of further exposure.

This is the last straw for desperate parents who are hoping that the government will now take action after 5 years of lobbying for $7 million to fix down the run down facilities.

According to an article on www.standard.net.au an independent report commissioned by the government has revealed that 57 per cent of the school buildings are in poor condition and at least 34 per cent need to be bulldozed.

WorkSafe Victoria did not have any information for parents as to how much asbestos was found or the risk it exposed their children to. Parents also do not know when their children will be allowed to return to school.

The post on Standard.net.au explained:

1“WorkSafe was called to Timboon P-12 School in relation to asbestos … it identified several safety concerns, including exposed asbestos and peeling paint that may be lead-based,” a spokeswoman said.

She was unable to say who had contacted WorkSafe with the concerns.

“A prohibition notice was issued, which prevents the school being used until all safety issues are addressed.”

The Education Depart-ment released a brief letter to parents through Timboon P-12 principal Rosalie Moorfield, saying that “WorkSafe visited our school to inspect the eaves of our toilet block, which were suspected to contain asbestos”.

“However, the inspector brought wider concerns to our attention and has issued a prohibition notice,” Ms Moorfield said.

Source: http://www.standard.net.au/story/1594269/asbestos-scare-shuts-down-timboon-p-12-school/?cs=72

According to reports an environmental assessor is now completing an overall review of the school and will release findings soon.

This incident is an example of how innocent lives can be affected by asbestos. Disturbing asbestos materials may generate airborne asbestos fibres. Asbestos is only dangerous if it becomes airborne and inhaled over a period of time, at which time it may contribute to life-threatening, incurable diseases such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis some of which only reveal themselves years later. It’s frightening to think that innocent children may have been exposed to asbestos fibres and may suffer later on down the line.

With all the asbestos related incidents occurring in Oz as of late, it is important that builders and even the general public are aware of what to do if they are exposed.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to assess the amount of your exposure. If you were exposed only very briefly, or only at very low levels, your risk of a resulting disease is probably low. However, if you were exposed at high levels or for long periods of time, you may be at increased risk of certain cancers or the other diseases and need to seek medical attention. Smoking may make the consequences of asbestos exposure worse, so quit immediately. Speak to a medical health professional as you may have to go in for regular check-ups because asbestos related diseases take so long to reveal themselves.

Also inform your doctor if you start to have symptoms that might be related to asbestos exposure such as shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, trouble swallowing, or unintended weight loss. See your doctor as soon as possible for any respiratory illness.

 

Video shows Building Erected in 15 days

A Chinese construction firm, Broad Group has accomplished a major feat in the building industry by erecting a 30 storey building within 15 days.

According to Australian news site NEWS.com.au, the construction of the hotel, near Dongting Lake in the Hunan Province, took 200 workers and is set to open January 18. To speed up the process, sections of the building were prefabricated in factories and shipped to the site before construction, the news site wrote.

Amazingly the site had a near perfect safety record and was erected to the highest possible standards. One would think that such rapid construction would result in injuries or even deaths but it actually has benefits for the environment such as reduced waste and energy. So in other words it is environmentally friendly to erect buildings in this way.

The company intends to continue to expand its operations across China in 2013 with around 20 buildings a month being built. Their aim is to have 50 buildings erected each month by 2014.

The skyline of China is ever changing and expanding and if construction continues to grow at this rate, it may change the entire aesthetic of the country .

Watch this video detailing the construction project:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdpf-MQM9vY