WorkSafe Inspections To Focus on Falling Objects

WorkSafe inspectors continue their focus on falling objects at building sites across Victoria.

WorkSafe has warned that falling objects are the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry and not only do they possess a risk to workers but also to people on the street or nearby work sites.

Over the past 5 years there have been 5 fatalities and 721 injuries caused by falling objects on construction sites.

One incident that took place in January involved a piece of timber falling 22 floors at a Southbank site.

Another incident happened when a piece of MDF sheeting fell through an open window and 63 floors to the ground on Little Latrobe Street.

In another incident a tower crane dropped a 11.5 ton concrete slab at a Clayton construction site.

While these incidents were not fatal and fortunately nobody was injured, they could easily have been, like an incident in September last year when a 48 year old man died when a kibble full of concrete fell from a crane. Another man was seriously injured at the Box Hill construction site.

WorkSafe warned that some of the common causes for falling objects on construction sites include gaps in safety screens, holes in safety netting, kick and toe boards missing in scaffolding, debris and material coming loose while being lifted. The work safety authority also warned that unsecured items stored near edges or exposed to high winds can cause objects to fall.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen reminded us that even small objects can cause serious injury when falling from a high height.

“Every year WorkSafe is notified of hundreds of incidents involving falling objects, which are not only dangerous for workers, but also for members of the public passing by construction sites,” she said.

“Loads being lifted through the air must also be properly secured, and as we saw last year, the consequences can be tragic when a crane drops its load and there are workers below.”

“Risk control measures for falling objects are well known so there is no excuse for employers failing to implement them.”

Source: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2019-02/worksafe-target-falling-object-dangers

Work Safe went on to describe the steps employers and site duty holders can take to address the risk of falling objects on construction sites,

  • Eliminating the risk through off-site assembly of equipment that would otherwise be performed at an elevated edge.

  • Using containment systems or securing objects through substitution, isolation or engineering controls.

  • Using guardrail systems that incorporate mesh infill panels and kickboards.

  • Isolating the risk with barricades or fencing to create exclusion zones at ground level.

  • Implementing engineering controls such as perimeter safety screens, overhead protection gantries, enclosed perimeter scaffolding, and restraining loose material.

  • Administrative controls such as lines markings and signage to advise lanyard systems are to be used on tools, or to monitor the possibility of windy weather.

Source: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2019-02/worksafe-target-falling-object-dangers

Man Hospitalised After Roof Fall

Source: Pixabay.com

Another fall from height has taken place at a worksite, this time in Pennant Hills.

A 45 year old man had to be transported to hospital after falling through a roof, it is believed he was replacing skylight sheeting at the time when he fell 3 metres onto the deck below.

The incident caused injuries to his head and limb and he was transported to Westmead Hospital in a stable condition.

Falls remain the main cause of injury on worksites and yet they are avoidable. Let’s work to make the rest of the year a safe one by ensuring fall protection measures are taken whenever working from heights, even if the potential fall height seems relatively low – falls from even a low height can cause serious injury.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/man-hospitalised-falling-roof-2/#.XLNnjqQlE1l

How To Manage Falls on Worksites

Safe Work SA has released a series of videos to help manage the risk of falls from height including ladder safety.

The four video series also includes a video on The hierarchy of risk controls, safe use of portable ladders and training and supervision.

The videos will help operators and workers manage the risk of working at heights and help them to comply with their WH&S responsibilities.

Watch video 1 on Managing risk of falls below,

 

Injury Hotspots Broken Down by Industry and Job

Have you ever wondered what the most common injuries sustained in your industry and specific job are?

WorkSafe Victoria has a useful and informative tool which allows you to find out information about the most common injuries for your job, giving you a sector specific view of harm.

For example construction carpenters face 6 common hazards – manual handling of construction materials, noise, slips,trips and falls, using hand tools, working at ground/floor level, working overhead or above shoulders.

These hazards commonly result in hand/finger injuries, back injuries, shoulder, knee, leg, ear and wrist/forearm injuries, these are called ‘injury hotspots’. The WorkSafe resource provides more advice on avoiding these injury hotspots.

For the construction industry there is also injury hotspot information for concreters, electricians, heating/airconditioning installation, labourers, painters, plasterers, plumbers and roofers.

Find out more at http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/hotspots#/

Online Safety Kit to Help Avoid Slips and Trips in the Workplace

A new online kit has been released to help employers prevent slips and trips in the workplace, which accounts for 23.5 per cent of all lost time injuries annually.

According to WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch, the number of slips and trips that happen annually represents a significant cost to employers, which better prevention strategies would help reduce.

The kit includes a guide on how to identify slip and trip hazards and assess them. It also suggests controls that can be implemented to address these hazards.

Although most people don’t consider a slip or trip as serious, the injuries that result can be, especially if a person also strikes something while falling.  Read more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/new-workplace-safety-kit-now-available/#.WmD8XTclE1l

Workers Responsibility in Avoiding Slips and Trips on Site

Slips, trips and falls are the most commonly occurring cause of injury on construction sites and on work sites in general which is why this aspect of OH&S requires and warrants more attention than less commonly occurring hazards. More workers are killed every year because of a slip, trip or fall than any other way on a construction site and despite being aware of risks, workers are still making mistakes which end up costing them dearly. This post attempts to recap some of the most basic duties of employees in avoiding slip, trip and fall injuries.

  1. Undergo the necessary training. Complete the general construction safety training course, White Card course which covers the basic aspects of construction site safety. Not only is it a mandatory legal requirement but it also covers important aspects of fall protection.
  2. Maintain a clean and clear work area. While you as a worker obviously do not have control over the entire site, you can control your work area. Keep it clean and clear of debris, clutter and tools which can present a tripping hazard to yourself or others. Also clean up any spills or chemicals on the ground as workers may slip on it.
  3. Utilise PPE as directed. PPE and fall protection needs to be utilised according to your training and instruction from your supervisors. Keep your PPE and equipment in good condition and store correctly to prolong its lifespan and effectiveness.
  4. Not sure, Ask. If you have any concerns regarding fall hazards left unattended or unaddressed raise these issues with a supervisor or safety rep. If you have forgotten any aspect of your safety training, ask for advice or additional training. Good communication is key in promoting safety on site and preventing careless behaviour which can contribute to falls and other hazards.

 

White Card Update: Danger of Slips, Trips and Falls – Is Your Workplace Safe?

While accidents can occur in any workplace, construction sites are particular susceptible to slips, trips and falls due to the large number of potential hazards on site. Slip and fall hazards are one of the most commonly identified hazards that are dealt with at some length in the OHS White Card course at www.whitecardonline.com.au.

Some of the injuries associated with slips, trips and falls include cuts, sprains, fractures, spinal injury and strains to name a few. As numerous as the possible injuries 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.

Other areas of concern are working on ladders, working from heights, stairs, areas with bad lighting, working near trenches or pits. Vigilance is necessary when working with any of these.

Picture source: www.checkonsafety.com

Slips especially occur when shoes lose their grip on the floor. Whether a substance is spilled on the floor or an object is left on the floor that causes a fall, a loss of balance is the result.

Ladders

Working with ladders can be dangerous when not used safely. Ladders should be used specifically for its task, don’t improvise, follow the rules. Accidents do occur and you may injure yourself or co-workers and be held responsible. Some guidelines regarding ladders include, not placing ladders in front of doors or allowing more than one person on at a time. Another important point to remember is to not climb higher than the third rung from the top of a straight ladder or the second rung from the top of a step ladder.

Trenches

Another falling risk is the presence of trenches or pits on site. By falling into a trench or pit, workers can be seriously injured. While most deaths in trenches are caused by cave-ins, falls could also be hazardous. Fences, barricades, guardrails and appropriate warning signs must accompany trenches or pits. According to OHS law, employees must be trained about working near trench and other construction site hazards.

Heights

Falling from heights could also be critical. When working on scaffolding or a rooftop, workers need to be cautious. Regulation requires an approved safety system should be implemented, including guardrails, scaffolding and fall protection. If these measures do not sufficiently reduce the risk workers should be equipped with proper safety harnesses.

According to statistics trips most often occur due to uneven floor surface or obstacles on floors for example cables or tools, or loose tiles or foreign objects on floors. Good housekeeping is vital to ensure floors are kept clear of obstructions and possible tripping hazards. It is also important to make sure floors are free from holes, uneven surfaces or obstacles.

Smaller details that are often ignored also need to be attended to when identifying hazards. Such as appropriateness of footwear. Footwear on site needs to be suitable for the type of work and environment. A non-slip sole and appropriate tread is needed to ensure proper grip between the floor surface and footwear. Lighting is also often ignored and contributes to accidents on site. Poor lighting and distractions can impact a person’s awareness of their surroundings, including possible slipping or falling hazards in their path.

As an employee you can assist by keeping floors clean and clear of obstructions, dealing with spills or accidents immediately, barricading or placing warning signs around potential hazard areas, avoiding trailing cables, cords, pipes or other equipment across the walkway.

Workers need to have a thorough understanding of slips, trips and falls hazards and how these hazards can be managed and hopefully minimised. Staff should be trained on how to control hazards and avoid injury, including proper reporting procedures.

As a worker, you have a duty to take care of your own safety as well as that of your co-workers. Workers need to continually assess the situation to assure they are not putting themselves or others at risk. Compliance with safe work practice and cooperation with your employer is crucial in this regard.

If you feel your workplace does not comply with proper safety regulations or place you or your co-workers at risk report it immediately before it’s too late.

Other rules and guidelines would have been made available to you during your induction training. If you have not received your training and are working on a construction site you are doing so illegally. To rectify the situation complete your online white card course today.

Posted by Steven Asnicar