Explosion on Sydney Site Sparked by Construction Worker’s Mistake

The risks associated with power lines once again came under the spotlight as footage from a dashcam showed an explosion caused by a construction worker who inadvertently made contact with an overhead powerline.

The man is seen passing a copper pipe from the ground floor of a Kogarah building under construction to a colleague on the first floor, one morning.

The well meaning worker touched the powerline with the copper piping which resulted in the explosion which causes the entire site to light up.

NSW Fire and Rescue were alerted of the incident and confirmed it was caused by a struck power line. Thankfully there were no serious injuries and the worker involved was able to drive himself to the hospital shortly after.

To watch the footage or read more visit http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/11/21/13/06/construction-workers-blunder-sparks-explosion-on-sydney-worksite

Beware Brittle/ Fragile Roofing

roof work

WorkSafe WA is urging all employers to consider the hazards of working on or near brittle or fragile roofing materials.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch recently urged all employers to ensure they are operating in accordance with relevant regulations and code of practice.

Mr McCulloch went on to remind employers of the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 which include prescriptive requirements concerning working from heights. These requirements include indentifying fall hazards such as brittle or fragile roofing materials.

He also highlighted the importance of employers protecting workers from falls at workplaces.


Read more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/06/reminder-consider-hazards-brittle-fragile-roofing-materials/#.V37DRfl97IW



Material Handling Safety for Construction Advice

sling safety
Source: www.seton.ca

Materials handling is an important aspect of construction work which is why sling safety should be part of every site’s safety plan.

Without slings materials handling and transport would be alot more difficult. however workers are often injured when loads are too heavy for the slings that support them. 

An article on a construction safety website provides some guidance as to how to address hazards when using slings to lift loads, here we’ve included the top 3…

  1. Only use a sling for its intended use and for the suitable type and size of load, as well as for the worksite’s environment.
  2. Before inspection, make sure the sling in cleaned of oil and dirt.
  3. Inspect the sling for broken wires, damaged rope strands and signs of wear before use.

For more advice go to: http://www.safetyservicescompany.com/industry-category/construction/materials-handling-top-13-tips-for-greater-sling-safety/

Study Proves Long Hours Could be Bad for Your Health

sleepy worker
Source: www.safetynewsalert.com

The results of a recent study are especially important for those in the construction industry to consider because of the long hours we sometimes work.

According to the study by researchers from University College London, working longer hours could affect a person’s cardiovascular health and increase the risk for a stroke.

During the study, those who worked longer hours have a 33% risk of having a stroke and 13% chance of having coronary heart disease than those who work standard hours of 35-40 hours per week.

To find out more, click 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.



Exploring the Dangers of Hand and Arm Vibration Explored

One of the less known and less addressed hazards on a construction site is that stemming from the use of tools, equipment and machines that can cause injury from the vibration of the equipment.

Employers have a responsibility to assess the risk of injury from vibrating power tools and to take all necessary action to eliminate the risk if possible. If not they should attempt to reduce the risk as much as possible to minimise the likelihood of worker injury.

Although this is one of the risks that may not be taken as seriously because it doesn’t maim or kill anybody, exposure to hand-arm vibration can cause serious injury which may affect an employee’s ability to work.

Workers need to be informed, instructed and adequately trained especially if they are at risk. Workers need to know the symptoms of injury and what they need to do for their own protection.

Workers should understand what activities pose the risk of hand-arm vibration being transmitted. This includes workers operating hand-held power tools such as road workers operating jack hammers, workers using hand guided equipment such as a vibrating compactor or whilst holding materials being processed by a machine.

Workers who are exposed are likely to suffer permanent harm if they have regular contact with a vibrating tool.

The risk involved with hand-arm vibration is that it can cause a range of conditions called hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). There are also other diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome and white finger which workers can sustain.


Image source: www.nems.co.uk

A worker’s hand who is suffering from White Finger

Some of the symptoms can appear after a few months of exposure or it may take years to develop. With regular or repeated exposure, workers can suffer permanent damage and disfigurements which can hinder their ability to work thereby affecting their ability to earn a living.

Signs to look out for:

  • tingling and/or numbness in the fingers
  • inability to feel things properly
  • loss of strength in the hands
  • The most obvious sign is fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, particularly in cold and wet conditions – usually this starts on the finger tips.

These symptoms can be very serious and the effects may include, pain, distress, disturbed sleep, inability to do certain everyday tasks, reduced ability to work in cold weather, cold weather triggers painful fingers and your gripping strength is decreased.

The workers that are most at risk include those involved in construction activities especially those who work with hand-held power tools and machinery a lot such as concrete breakers, sanders, grinders, hammer drills, chainsaws etc.

Similarly to other hazards on a construction site hand-arm vibration needs to be dealt with systematically. Firstly the hazards need to be identified and the risk associated with them needs to assessed. Once the risk is assessed, it should be eliminated if possible and if not practicable it needs to be minimised as much as possible. Even risks related to hand-arm vibration need to be controlled and managed and workers need to be trained on how to safely operate tools and equipment that present a risk, as to avoid injury and harm.


Worker Crushed by Wood on a Construction Site in Mount Isa

Last week was a bad one for construction safety with a number of workers suffering serious injuries due to workplace accidents. One of these accidents happened on a construction site at Mount Isa when a half tonne of wood fell on top of him, crushing the worker’s chest.

The incident occurred when the wooden formwork fell on top of the worker, crushing him between the wood and a mound of dirt.

The young worker involved was 22 years old and had to be transported to Mount Isa with critical injuries to the chest. Work Health and Safety are currently looking into the incident however whatever the cause, the incident highlights the risks that falling objects present to workers on construction sites. The following excerpt was taken from a post on Couriermail.com.au

A CONSTRUCTION site worker was seriously injured when half a tonne of wood crushed him against a dirt embankment in Mount Isa this morning.

The man, believed to be aged 22, was working on the site about 8am when the 500kg of wooden form work fell and crushed him.

He was rushed to Mount Isa with critical internal chest injuries.

When his condition stabilised about 2pm he was flown to Townsville Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/halftonne-of-wood-falls-on-man-22-crushing-his-chest-at-mount-isa-construction-site/story-fnihsrf2-1226689635602

Employers should ensure that they take certain measures to reduce risks involved with falling objects to avoid incidents such as this one from occurring again.

Some of the control measures that can be implemented include using fences and barricades to separate the hazard from other workers and people to prevent fatal accidents such as this one. Employers can also consider using appropriate signage to warn of the danger of falling objects.

Employers should also install safety nets wherever necessary to catch falling objects, such as debris, building materials and even tree branches.

In this case the accident occurred as a result of falling wooden form work weighing around 500kg.

UntitledEmployers need to manage the hazards associated with wooden form on site to avoid injuries.

Photo Source: en.wikipedia.org

Management of hazards associated with wooden formwork should include:

  • Identification of hazards
  • Assessment of the risks that arise as a result of the hazards identified
  • Deciding on control measures to eliminate, substitute or minimise the level of risk
  • Implementation of control measures
  • Regular review and monitoring of these control measures effectiveness

It is should be remembered whenever wooden formwork is being erected, dismantled or used on construction sites that all materials used should be fit and appropriate for the intended purpose and meet design specifications – the formwork should be designed to Australian Standards.

Evidence verifying that formplysheets and timber bearers conformto Australian Standards must be kept on-site to produce when inspectors request it.

Also a physical barrier must separate theformwork work zone fromother workers.This barrier must be rigid and able to maintain its integrity in an upright position. The barrier may also be needed to support signage and needs to be able to withstand this.


Managing Risks associated with Falling Hazards

Workers on construction sites are placed at risk of sustaining a various number of injuries but the most common cause for concern is falls from heights. That is why this hazard is so commonly discussed when covering the topic of workplace health and safety however despite the risks, there are companies that are still failing to control hazards associated with working from heights, resulting in injuries and deaths which could otherwise have been avoided.

Falls aren’t common in the construction industry only, there are a number of various industries where fall risks are common, as an incident in West Melbourne recently proves. The accident happened on a dock while a transport company was lifting materials.

The transport company involved was convicted and fined $330,000 after one of its workers died after being hit by a falling beam. Other persons undertaking a business should attempt to learn from the mistakes made by the company, L. Arthur Pty Ltd, who failed to protect their employees by providing a safe system of work and work environment.

A post on WorkSAfeNews.com.au describes how the company was contracted to move unusual and heavy cargo on and off ships at Appleton Dock. Four workers using a gantry crane attempted to unload a 27 tonne steel drum from a truck at the dock. The crane was made up of 2 separate lifting rams which were used to lift a central 3 tonne beam.

The article on WorkSafeNews.com.au goes on to explain how the accident occurred:

For safety reasons, the lifting rams had to be raised or lowered in unison to ensure the beam stayed level at all times. The lifting rams were powered by diesel pump units connected by pressure hoses. The lifting rams would not extend or retract without the pressure hoses being connected.

To allow the truck to position the steel drum underneath the crane, the pressure hoses from the rams on one unit were disconnected to avoid being damaged by the reversing truck. Disconnecting the hoses was a normal part of the system of work.

But the hoses were not reconnected before the crane was positioned above the drum. As there was no hydraulic power to one of the lifting rams, it did not lower when the crane began operating. But the other lifting ram did.

As a result, the three-tonne steel beam slipped and fell on POAGS employee Steven Piper, killing him. The other three workers narrowly avoided being struck.

– See more at: http://www.worksafenews.com.au/news/item/333-docks-death-costs-company-$330,000.html#sthash.tAh44mqm.dpuf

The accident highlights the importance of safety when lifting loads using cranes. These types of high risk activities need to be more carefully controlled and managed. It should also be supervised to ensure that dangerous practices are not being undertaken, such as lifting loads above people’s heads.

Those undertaking the business should adopt administrative controls to prevent falling objects injuring people on the site. Controls such as installation of boards on the sides of elevated work areas or scaffolds, help to prevent objects falling over the edge and injuring a worker below.

Other safety plans relating to these hazards can be developed after looking at the sites unique hazards and consulting with workers to determine the control measures best for the situation.