Red Card Victoria: How to Avoid Safety Hazards on Building Sites

(Photo: Stuart Miles /

The Red Card Victoria has now been replaced with a more convenient, national “White Card” which is essential for acceptance on any construction site in Oz. The “Work Safely in the Construction Industry “course is aimed at equipping all workers in the building industry with the knowledge and skill to overcome potentially life threatening situations on site.

While the easy to follow course provides a detailed teaching on the many dangers that may present themselves on site, there are a few basic hazards that are common to a lot of construction sites that are worth a special mention.

Before proceeding with any work on a construction site the contractor or employer should investigate the potential hazards in order to know what they must overcome. Some of these hazards may include overhead power lines, unstable ground, hazardous material, work from heights etc. These hazards may be common to all construction sites or unique to the site.

For example some sites where renovation is being undertaken, there may be a contamination of asbestos or there may be a need to work with cranes and over-head power lines may present a hazard. Whatever the safety issue may be, construction safety training will teach workers how to react in these situations in order to avoid tragedy.

Another way to remain safe is to continuously assess tools and equipment and evaluate whether they may present a hazard from day to day. Wear and tear on equipment can make them less effective and even dangerous. For example electric tools and cords should be examined for exposed wires and they should not emit any sparks when in operation. Do not use a tool or equipment that feels unsafe or does not seem to be working properly. If tools or equipment are not working properly it should be reported immediately.  Workers should be properly trained on equipment and tool use before they are given these objects to work with.

Another requirement on a construction site is the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Not only do employers have to provide PPE to workers and train them on its use, they also need to ensure PPE are in good order. The white card induction training incorporates PPE and its effective use in various threatening construction situations.  Some of the PPE that are general to construction sites are hard hats, safety glasses, dust masks, gloves, ear plugs and the proper clothing like thick-soled construction boots. For night work or work in the dark, the correct luminous clothing should be worn. Workers have the responsibility to stick to safety procedures as outlined by their employer’s health and safety policies, including when, where and how to use PPE effectively.

Another common hazard on construction sites are working from heights. Work from ladders, roofs, scaffolds all present a risk which needs to be managed for example by using the proper fall protection. The white card course will outline all you need to know about falling on site in general and the site specific training you receive from your employer will explain the exact hazards you will be exposed to on the site. Workers have a responsibility to adhere to both the lessons taught by the general white card course (which replaced the Red card) as well as the site specific lessons learned.

The most important requirement on all building sites is that all workers are sufficiently trained. Both site specific and general construction induction training is required for every worker. The good news is that workers can now obtain their general construction site training online, which makes it both easy and convenient. It can be done from the privacy of your home or office and is valid nationally. This is a pre requisite to entrance as a worker on any construction site in Australia and has replaced the old Red Card Victoria for this purpose.