Construction Hazard Update: Minister Urges Workers to Address Even Small Hazards

One of the reasons for workers to undergo general construction safety training (White Card training) is to familiarise them with the general hazards that occur on a typical construction site. Although workers are trained on construction hazards during their induction it is not enough to only address the most serious hazards, even the smaller hazards such as those that occur less commonly and those which are likely to cause only minor harm must also be addressed.

This was the call from Employment Minister Bill Shorten who encouraged Aussie workers to observe even the small hazards in their workplace because even these can result in injuries or fatalities.

The minister said most safety incidents were preventable and that employers as well as workers need to take responsibility for safety. According to the minister the small hazards that we are aware of and become familiar with allows us to become complacent towards these hazards. This complacency is dangerous and is the cause of most workplace injuries. These so called “small” hazards are the ones claiming workers lives.

The minister, speaking at the unveiling of the National Workers Memorial at Kings Park in Canberra has promised that government will continue to work to harmonise work health and safety laws.

Read the post below from SafetyCulture.com.au which reported on the Minister’s calls:

shorten_bill_080033_020_official_blueSpeaking after unveiling the National Workers Memorial at Kings Park in Canberra for the inaugural International Workers Memorial Day, Mr Shorten said most workplace related deaths and injuries are predictable safety failures.

According to an AAP report, Mr Shorten said both employers and workers have the responsibility to ensure that people are able to return home from work safely.

“It’s not a systems failure or risk assessment failure, or hazard identification failure and all those other handsome words without tears,” said Mr Shorten.

“It is the failure that springs as a ready-made monster from the knowing tolerance of small daily hazards at the daily tasks.

“It’s the small daily hazards, which left unchecked, gang up on a worker and kill them.”

About 300 workers die in the country every year due to workplace injuries. AAP further reported that another 2000 are condemned to die from industrial diseases resulting from exposure.

Mr Shorten assured the public that the government would continue to work with states and territories to harmonise work health and safety laws.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/04/shorten-urges-workers-not-to-ignore-small-work-hazards/

In related news there has also been a call for tougher laws on negligent employers after the opening of the Canberra National Memorial. The memorial is the meeting place of those who come to mourn the loss of workers who had died in workplace accidents.

Around 300 workers die each year in workplace incidents and this year already 46 deaths have taken place which has prompted The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to call for tougher laws even introducing industrial manslaughter legislation that could be applied in the worst cases of workplace safety negligence resulting in death.

 

China Construction Incident Kills 3

China is known for being extremely fast when it comes to the construction of buildings, and usually they accomplish this with little or no safety incidents however last week the collapse of scaffold claimed the lives of 3 workers on a site in Dexing City, near Jiangxi province.

While an investigation into the accident is still under way, it is thought to revolve around questions about what caused the scaffold to collapse in the first place.

At the time of the incident, there were 11 construction workers engaged in work on the site, 2 bodies and were still searching for the third body long after the incident occurred.

This post on ChinaDaily.com.cn explains more:

NANCHANG – The death toll in a construction site scaffold collapse in Dexing City, East China’s Jiangxi province, Wednesday night, has risen to three, as rescuers retrieved the bodies of two more people early Friday.

Rescuers are still searching for the last person trapped in the accident that happened at around 9 pm Wednesday.

There were 11 workers working at the construction site of a convention center at the time of the accident.

Rescuers have brought out eight of them, one of whom died after medical treatment failed. Among the three trapped workers, two were found dead early Friday morning.

An investigation into the accident is under way.

Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-02/08/content_16215826.htm

One of the problems that can lead to an unstable scaffold is a lack of competency in the erection of the scaffold. If a competent and qualified person is not used to erect the scaffold, especially if it is 4 metres or higher in height, then the integrity of the structure cannot be confirmed. A certificated scaffolder must be used to erect scaffold where the working platform exceeds 4 metres in height or if the scaffold has cantilevers or outriggers.

These are some of the other issues that compromise scaffold stability and the strategies that can be implemented to avoid them:

  • A problem that can cause an unstable scaffold is an unstable foundation or ground or if different scaffold systems are mixed and matched when they shouldn’t be. In these circumstances the scaffolding may collapse, fully or partially and can injure or kill workers both on the structure and below it, as well as other bystanders nearby.
  • Another problem occurs when scaffolding components are overloaded, the scaffold can collapse, causing workers to fall from a height or workers to be crushed. Also if the wrong type of scaffold is used for the job, it can collapse especially if the scaffold components are overloaded.
  • Scaffolding that is damaged or poorly maintained also has compromised stability which could result in a similar incident as the one in China.
  • It is important that those involved in the erection of the scaffold follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter in order to jeopardise it’s stability.
  • When erecting base frames and bracing, frames can fall over striking a worker erecting the structure or a pass-by. This can occur when the foundation is not level or not suitable for erection of a scaffold.
  • Another possible problem is when castor wheels not adjusted correctly or not locked.