Safe Work Australia Focus on National Workplace Safety During October

Safe Work Australia has designated the month of October as National Safe Work Month, a time to work towards a safe and healthy work environment.

As part of the program, Safe Work has a campaign kit available on its website that companies can use to run their own safety initiatives and share their experiences so that other workplaces can benefit.There is also a $5000 reward for doing so.

It is also worth noting that August is National Tradie Safety Month, bringing the health and safety of people in trades industries such as construction into the spotlight.

Safe Work Australia has called upon all tradespeople to make their safety a priority as well as that of their co-workers.


Workers Reminded About Electrical Safety

World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day took place recently on Friday 28 April.

The day is used to remember workplace safety and those who were injured or killed on the job.

This year the day coincided with Safe Work Australia’s World Day for Health and Safety at work, which Essential Energy used to encourage workers to consider electrical safety.

The groups General Manager Safety, HR, and Environment, David Nardi mentioned that tradies and construction workers should be mindful of potential electrical hazards on the building site but people who work in offices and other environments need to also consider their risks.

Mr Nardi explained,

“All workers should assess the potential risk of working close to an electrical hazard and put in place appropriate controls to prevent incidents occurring,” David said.

“Consider the location of equipment relative to underground and overhead powerlines and keep plant, equipment and temporary structures such as scaffolding well clear of the electricity network.”


Essential Energy highlighted the number of power outages that have been caused across it’s footprint over the past few months resulting from incidents such as farming machinery making contact with power lines, burning or igniting of power poles, tree lopping causing vegetation to fall on service lines and vehicle crashes.

The company recommended on-site safety inductions to identify the location of potential electrical hazards in all work environments. In the construction industry, white card training which is mandatory for all workers only covers electrical safety in brief, more detailed site-specific training is necessary.

Essential Energy also advised companies to appoint a competent safety observer to worksites to monitor work teams and guide machinery near overhead power lines.

“If you are excavating, register your works with the free Dial before you dig referral service at to identify the location of underground utility assets before beginning work.

“In many cases, unplanned outages due to workplace incidents are avoidable and an unnecessary public safety risk. Not only are they dangerous, but they are expensive and inconvenient for all affected.

“Let’s make safety a priority every day so everyone can get home safely to their family and loved ones.”


More information about electrical safety in the workplace can be obtained from or call  13 23 91.

Accident with Drop Saw Sends Man to Hospital with Serious Injuries


An accident on a Queensland site has landed one man in his sixties in hospital. The man suffered serious injuries after an incident with a drop saw.

The man was rushed to Toowoomba Hospital for specialist treatment.

As an article I recently read points out, there are more than 8,000 hospital admissions each year over work related, hand and wrist injuries.

Many of  these admissions were construction workers who were injured on the job, while the manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade industries are also high risk in relation to hand and wrist incidents.


The Fortnightly OH&S News Wrap-Up: Construction Industry has Worst Fatality Record in 2013

According to Safe Work Australia there have been a staggering number of workplace deaths this year, in addition to a number of injuries, varying from minor to serious. A total of 14 workers have died throughout the country so far in 2013, with the most number of deaths occuring in the construction industry.

The statistics obtained from Safe Work Australia record the number of work fatalities and injuries and prepares reports based on the data. According to the reports we still have a long way to go in order to prioritise worker safety in Australia.

Read the full article here: Seven Construction Deaths This Year

seven construction

This disturbing statistic is underpinned by breaking news that a crane operator fell to his death in Melbourne’s CBD on Monday Morning. (via ABC News)

To help you stay up to date with what is happening in the industry, we’ve compiled some of the latest OHS news, which you may have missed.

Teenager Fatality Under Investigation

Fire Risk of Mobile Cranes

Construction Workers need a Healthier Lifestyle

Several Territories get New OHS Laws

White Card Update: 7 Construction Deaths this Year

According to Safe Work Australia there have been a staggering number of workplace deaths this year, in addition to a number of injuries, varying from minor to very serious.

A total of 14 workers died throughout the country this year, with the most number of deaths coming from the construction industry.

An article on details the numbers of workers killed in Oz since the beginning of the year to 8th February. The statistics obtained from Safe Work Australia record the number of work fatalities and injuries and prepares reports based on data obtained from the media. According to the report we still have a way to go in order prioritising worker safety in Oz.

The table below was taken from

Industry of workplace Worker deaths 2012 Worker deaths year-to-date 2013
Transport, postal & warehousing 66 2
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 45 1
Construction 21 7
Manufacturing 14 2
Administrative & support services 7
Public Administration & safety 6
Arts & recreation services 5
Mining 5 1
Electricity, gas, water 7 waste services 4
Wholesale trade 2 1
Retail trade 2
Education & training 3
Other services 2
Financial & insurance services 1
Health care & social assistance 2
Professional, scientific 7 technical services 1
Accommodation & food services 1
Government administration & defence 1
Industry unknown 4
Total worker deaths 192 14



Although the number of deaths so far this year are concerning, figures need not remain this high, something can be done. Although we can never bring back the workers lost, we can do our best to ensure others do not suffer the same fate. Employers, workers and other construction industry insiders can improve safety by working together and making safety the top priority.

One of the ways to do this is to undergo quality White Card training with a registered training provider that will not just process white cards as a matter of legal compliance but is dedicated to helping workers and employers achieve safety on site, thereby minimising the number of injuries and deaths.

It is important to remember that workers on a construction site are responsible for more than just their own safety. One workers actions may have consequences for another or many others. In fact statistics show that most workers, especially those injured by machinery such as cranes are killed by the actions of another.

The general construction safety White Card is aimed at equipping workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to avoid injury on a hazardous work site. Our course is comprehensive and easily accessible but most importantly it is well designed to stimulate learning as compared to others which just provide a question and answer platform without actually teaching workers the skills needed to ensure their safety on site.

As the leading provider of White Cards in Australia in both volume and quality our aim is to have a positive impact on the safety of construction workers and get them home safely at the end of the day.


White Card Update: Imported Material Tainted with Asbestos

The Construction Union is concerned about the incident involving asbestos being found in structures imported from Indonesia. The union has warned its members about the incident and issued an alert to educate workers.

Strangely the importation of asbestos products was banned in Australia almost a decade ago, so how this material could have slipped through the cracks is still unknown. The union is particularly concerned about the safety of electricians who may be exposed.

The asbestos was only discovered after a fire in one of the switch boards cause the asbestos sheeting to break, revealing the dangerous asbestos fibres within. reported on the case:

The CFMEU has advised its members that asbestos was found in pre-assembled structures imported from Indonesia for installation at local building sites.

The alert was issued after the union learnt that the Bechtel Construction Pty Ltd site on Curtis Island near Gladstone, Queensland, had imported sheds built from converted shipping containers.

They were assembled in Indonesia and supplied by the international company METITO Pty Ltd to house the Motor Control Centres for the Sewage Treatment Plant.

CFMEU QLD/NT safety officer Andrew Ramsay said tests had confirmed the internal linings of the sheds consisted of Asbestos Cement Sheeting/Tiles on the walls, floors and ceilings.

‘As we are all aware the importation of asbestos products has been banned through the Customs Act in Australia since 31 December 2003,’ he said.

‘The asbestos in these sheds came to light after a fire in one of the switch boards caused the sheeting to be broken and exposed the fibres to the workers involved.’

‘The Union is concerned that many electricians may also have been exposed during fit-out of these sheds before the alarm was raised.’


The report goes on to report on the latest Mesothelioma figures in Oz which are among the highest in the world. It is expected that up to 18,000 more Australians will die from mesothelioma by 2020. Mesothelioma is the cancer of the pleura. This disease grows and spreads quickly before the symptoms appear which makes early diagnosis and treatments harder.  The average survival time after diagnosis is only 6-18 months. A very small exposure to asbestos can be enough to trigger the cancer. The danger of this disease is that there may be a lag time of 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure before mesothelioma results.

The report goes on to cite the following statistics:

Mesothelioma report reveals diagnosis and death rates

Meanwhile, Safe Work Australia has published a statistical report containing data on the number of mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed between 1982 and 2008, as well as the number of deaths due to mesothelioma between 1997 and 2007.

The key findings are summarised below:

New cases diagnosed

 •In 2008 there were 661 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia.

The number of new cases decreased from a previous peak of 652 new cases in 2003 to 591 new cases in 2006: initially suggesting a decreasing trend. However, the number of diagnoses reported in 2007 reached a new peak of 668 cases. This increase between 2006 and 2007 was mainly due to the increase in diagnoses for men (from 487 to 561 new cases respectively).

 •In 2008, the age-standardised incidence rate of new cases of mesothelioma was 2.9 per 100 000 population.

This rate has increased over time, from 1.2 cases in 1982 to a peak of 3.2 in 2003. In 2008, the highest age-specific incidence rate of new cases occurred among men aged 85 years and over: 48 cases per 100 000 population aged 85 years and over.

Deaths due to mesothelioma

•In 2007 there were 551 deaths attributed to mesothelioma.

Data on the number of deaths due to mesothelioma are available for the years 1997 to 2007. Reflecting the increase in incidence of new cases diagnosed, the overall number of deaths resulting from mesothelioma generally increased over the period between 1997 and 2007: reaching a maximum of 551 deaths in 2007.

 •In 2007, the age-standardised rate of death due to mesothelioma was 2.4 deaths per 100 000 population.

The overall age-standardised rate has remained relatively stable over the 10 years for which data are available. Over the period the standardised rate has ranged between a minimum of 2.1 deaths per 100 000 population in 1999 and a maximum of 2.7 in 2001.’


 Posted by Steven Asnicar


White Card Online News Update: Safeguarding Construction Sites Against Hazards

A recent report by Safe Work Australia revealed that the number of deaths that occur at work have declined in the year ending 2011. Interestingly the largest number of deaths occurred due to incidents involving falling objects. Here we discuss the major hazards involved in construction work that are often overlooked and how they can be successfully overcome.

Power Tools

A number of accidents occur each year in which workers are maimed or severely injured sometimes fatally by power tools. Although they are invaluable in construction they can be extremely dangerous if not used with the proper precautions. Power saws, grinders and other power tools must have proper guards in place at all times. Cords and hoses must be placed so as not to create a tripping hazard or be subjected to damage from equipment or materials. Tools must be put away into tool boxes or someplace safe where they will not present a tripping hazard or fall onto someone and injure them while not in use. Also make sure that power tools are repaired whenever necessary by a licenced electrician only. Power tools should be tested regularly and if damaged reported immediately.

Compressed Air

Compressed air is used in many site operations, tools and equipment for power or cleaning down. Compressed air can be dangerous and can also injure or kill. It has the potential to blast slivers of wood, steel and concrete into eyes, through skin and deep into flesh. It can also peel skin off . It can burst lungs. It can even enter the blood stream and stop a person’s heart. It should be treated with great caution. Inspect airlines and tools before use, fasten all connections securely. Do not attempt to turn the air on yourself to blow dust from clothing or skin as this may result in death.


Inspect ladders before use for any damage. Wooden ladders should not be painted as cracks and damage may not be seen. If a ladder is damaged it should not be used. Ladders are to be secured at the top and bottom and set at the correct angle of 1 in 4 before climbing. When climbing tools should not be carried in your hands both hands should be on the ladder. Never use a metal ladder adjacent to suspended electrical conductors unless they have been isolated. Clean mud and grease off footwear before using ladders otherwise this will create a slipping hazard. Face the ladder when climbing and use both hands to hang on.

Chemicals And Fibre-Based Products

It is important that all chemicals and fibre-based substances introduced to site must not be used unless accompanied by a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The responsible foreman will ensure that the use of these products will not be harmful to the workers handling them and that the correct procedures for use and the correct type of protective equipment is worn.


Excavations of all types require barricading and hand railing of substantial materials so as to prevent persons from failing into them. Excavations or trenches exceeding 1.5 metres should have shoring to walls and faces or as stipulated by regulations. Ladder access must be provided to and from all excavations and trenches and Guard rails must be provided.

Guard Rails

All openings in the ground and all penetrations in floors must be fitted with guard rails or handrails. Missing rails must be reported immediately and if removed for work purposes, they must be replaced before leaving the area. Neglecting to do so may result in injury.

Even with great caution exercised accidents still occur. It is important the workers are trained before entering the construction site on specific procedures for that site.

Accident Reporting

All accidents need to be reported so that they may be investigated and analysed so that they do not occur again. It is also important to warn other workers of what to be aware of and to warn employers on what needs to be done in terms of safety and future prevention. If there is an accident, please make sure it is reported, no matter how small.

Injury Reporting

All injuries must be reported to the first-aid attendant/foreman for treatment and recording. The first-aid attendant will carry out treatment initially and recommend follow-up treatment. It is also important for compensation claims that the injury be recorded.

Posted by Steven Asnicar