White Card Update: Statistical Data shows Housing Construction Growth

According to the latest housing data points, the new home building industry is heading for a recovery from the recent slump over the last few years. In fact seasonally adjusted figures show the number of new dwelling construction starts rose by 8.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2013, promising figures for those in the industry as well as those looking for a start in it. Young workers in particular should take advantage of the growth being experience, with the need for skilled construction workers rising and an expected skills shortage in the near future anticipated.

Although new home construction starts are on the rise, according to ABS figures the number of detached house construction starts is still weak. Most of the recent growth in construction has come from units and apartments according to the ABS latest dwelling figures for the December quarter ending 2013.

The following excerpt from a post on Brokernews.com.au explains:

Detached house building activity declined by 0.7% in the December quarter of 2013 while multi-unit building activity increased by 21.3% in the quarter.

The Housing Industry Association believes this shows the housing industry is picking up.

“Original figures show there were 47,326 dwellings commenced in the December quarter which was the strongest quarterly result since 2002, even surpassing the highs during the period impacted by the GFC stimulus,” said HIA economist Geordan Murray.

“Throughout the duration of the recovery to date, growth has been driven primarily by the NSW and WA markets. Given that the level of activity in these two markets has now reached historic highs, growth beyond the current levels could to be more difficult.”

Source: http://www.brokernews.com.au/news/breaking-news/abs-data-shows-dwelling-construction-growth-186659.aspx

According to statistics neither New South Wales nor Western Australia played a major part in the growth experienced over the December quarter however NSW did experience minor growth with WA declining slightly,

But neither NSW nor WA drove the growth in the December quarter. Dwelling commencements in NSW rose by 2.8%, while commencements in WA declined by 1.3%.

Source: http://www.brokernews.com.au/news/breaking-news/abs-data-shows-dwelling-construction-growth-186659.aspx

This is no reason to expect the construction industries in these states to remain stagnant. Economists have predicted growth across the board for the construction industries in Oz but the good news about the construction industry is that once you have completed your General Construction Safety training in one state, it is valid nationally allowing you to work anywhere in the country that you have a job opportunity.

Much of the activity in the construction sector can be attributed to commercial construction. It is important to keep in mind that residential construction is on the rise despite commercial construction activity being higher, particularly in terms of revenue.   The post went on to explain:

The ABS also released construction activity data to December 2013. Seasonally adjusted numbers show residential construction by value around $12 billion a quarter across 2013, which is slightly higher than the fourth quarter of 2012.

Only 23% of construction activity by value relates to residential development. This has fallen significantly since 2000 likely due to an increase in non-residential building activity.

Source: http://www.brokernews.com.au/news/breaking-news/abs-data-shows-dwelling-construction-growth-186659.aspx

It is important that people in this sector, both residential and commercial construction workers need to be in possession of the General Construction Safety Induction Card known as the White Card.

Adherence to Sun Safety Showing Positive Results in South Australia

Construction workers spend an above average amount of time in the sun which means that they are often the victims of skin damage caused by the sun. Sun safety should play a vital part in workplace health and safety particularly on construction sites because of the hours construction workers spend in the harsh sun. Australia has an especially high rate of skin cancer and other skin conditions caused by the sun.

In fact according to statistics we in Oz have some of the highest rates of skin melanomas in the world and outdoor workers suffer the most.

The value of proper skin protection and measures such as regular screening for cancer should not be underestimated especially by employers who have an obligation to protect workers as much as possible from environmental hazards such as outdoor work and exposure to the sun.

Employers in the construction sector could learn from the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) who has managed to reduce the number of council staff suffering from melanomas by implementing a skin screening program.

According to data, council workers referred to doctors with suspected melanomas from 65 between 2008 and 2010 to just 4 between 2011 and 2013.

The president of the LGA, Mayor David O’Loughlin explains:

sun-488x350 “In the past three years more than 8500 skin cancer screenings have been conducted, of these 875 or around 10 per cent have been referred for further follow up and of these four were for suspected melanoma and another 142 for other forms of carcinoma,”

Source: http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2014/06/sun-smart-outdoor-staff-sa-reporting-fewer-melanomas/

South Australia workers in particular are at risk of sun related damage because of the long summer days and arid landscape. Local council workers who are exposed to the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun because of their time spent outdoors are similar to those who work outdoors on construction sites in that they are at risk of skin damage and potentially fatal skin melanomas. The following excerpt explains more about the occupational health and safety risks of exposure to the sun:

The risks associated with UV exposure has also created a potential Occupational Health and Safety crisis. The susceptibility of outdoor staff led the Local Government Association to initiate its skin screening and monitoring process in 2002 as a way of tackling the workplace risk that has the potential to both take lives and cost huge amounts of money.

The program has also gone a long way towards maintaining the appeal of actively working outdoors, which is often regarded by employees as a healthy alternative to more sedentary, desk based work.

Mr O’Loughlin said the drop in referral rates for melanoma is “particularly pleasing” and can be attributed to the continued screening and monitoring service offered to employees.

Source: http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2014/06/sun-smart-outdoor-staff-sa-reporting-fewer-melanomas/

Employers in the construction industry can learn from this case the importance of skin protection for outdoor workers. Often employers view skin protection as outside their scope of concern and believe that the onus lies on employees to protect themselves. While employees do need to protect their own skin from sun damage, employers who require workers to spend a lot of time outdoors should also consider the occupational health and safety risks of doing so, including those associated with sun exposure and its damage to the skin. Perhaps taking a similar approach to the LGA should be considered, as continued screening and monitoring have proven so successful for council workers and may also do so for construction workers.


Construction Education and Training

A question that health and safety training experts suggest employers ask is whether they educate their staff or simply provide training?

At first glance they may seem like the same thing but in fact educating workers on safety and simply providing them with safety training are very different and the effectiveness of your efforts will depend on whether they are “educated” or simply “trained”?

Experts in the health and safety arena will tell you training isn’t just about providing workers with written material and expecting them to memorise it. Experience has taught us that people learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process.

And as employers its’ important to recognise that getting the safety message across is more important than simply fulfilling health and safety legislation, it is a matter of productivity and more importantly a matter of life and death.

So what is the most effective way of training workers on safety?

One way that has proven effective and is growing in popularity globally not just in Australia is online training.

In my opinion one reason why online safety training is gaining in popularity is because of its effectiveness in getting the message across. Whereas traditional training in a classroom environment or simply providing workers with written material doesn’t motivate them to get involved and interact, online training ensures that workers are actively engaged in the training program.

One program that has been delivered effectively and cost efficiently online is the general construction induction course which has been mandated for all construction workers by the federal government.

This safety induction course is known as The White Card course and can be completed online rather than having to attend a traditional educational institute. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, the most popular being:

  1. Saving time:  Registration and completion of the course from the comfort of the student’s home means that they don’t have to stand in long queues to register or travel to classes to complete the course. The majority of the course is completed online and a small part of the assessments are done over the phone. This ensures that students are actively engaged in the learning process which experts have discovered is the best way to learn and retain the information learned.
  2. Saving money: Most students entering the construction industry are eager to get to work and start earning. Our short course can be completed quickly and save learners money on registration fees and travel costs. It also saves those who are working and studying at the same time because they don’t have to take time off work. The course can be completed at night, during lunch breaks or whenever students have a minute or two to spare. The cost of the online course is nominal compared to other training courses.
  3. Getting actively involved rather than learning passively. Safety training is one of those topics that you need to retain in order for it to be effective. What would be the point of completing the course and immediately forgetting everything you learn? Your health and safety literally depends on your ability to retain the information relayed by the course, which is much more likely if you are actively completing the assessments and being involved in the learning process. Our user friendly interface is also state of the art and designed to hold your attention while relaying the safety information necessary to stay safe on the construction site.



White Card Update: Addressing Bullying From Senior Staff

Employers should understand the importance of addressing bullying in the workplace but we need to recognise that bullying doesn’t always occur horizontally, between employees or colleagues, bullying can also occur from the top down.

A recent case which took place at Mount Thorley is an example of bullying from senior staff down to lower level employees.

Mine workers at the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine have alleged that they were bullied and harassed by senior staff at the mine and have lodged complaints against the supervisors in production and maintenance areas of the mine.

The CFMEU has lodged complaints on behalf of the 8 employees who claim that their supervisors at the mind had bullied them. The complaints have been lodged at the NSW Department of Trade and Investment mine safety office.

The CFMEUs union district president Peter Jordan reiterated that no workers should ever be bullied in the workplace and it is important that we take all bullying and harassment complaints seriously but even more so when it comes from eight separate employees within a single workplace.

Jordan explained that it was unusual for complaints to be lodged against supervisors from so many workers at the mine, usually individual members would lodge complaints against other workers at other mines.

A spokesperson from Mount Thorley Warkworth recently said in a statement:

Mount Thorley Warkworth mine workers claim bullying   Newcastle Herald“Mine safety operation inspectors are investigating under the Work Health and Safety Act,” the spokesman said.

“They have recommended that the company form a panel to further investigate the allegations, resolve the issue and report back to the inspectors.”

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2381727/mount-thorley-warkworth-mine-workers-claim-bullying/


A panel consisting of Rio Tinto representatives and a CFMEU mine site check inspector will be considering the case within the next few weeks. According to a spokesperson from the mine, the company had clear standards which upheld the rights of all employees but other companies can save themselves this kind of problem by educating employees including management about bullying and monitoring the situation on worksites regularly. Employers should never wait until the situation gets out of hand before addressing the problem, especially when there are a number of workers making the same complaints. Ignoring even one complaint is bad enough, but when it takes 8 workers lodging complaints for action to be taken, the situation is out of hand.

Not only do allegations such as this one affect the corporate image of a company, it affects productivity and as research has proven bullying costs companies in Oz billions of dollars every year.

A survey conducted by Drake International earlier this year which questioned 800 employees revealed that half of them had witnessed bullying in the workplace and at least 25 per cent had actually been victims of bullying themselves. Much of this bullying occurs from the top down and employers have a financial incentive to address this type of behaviour before it affects workplace productivity and the company’s bottom line.

How Training can Help Reduce Incidents on a Work Site

Exploring the Importance of White Card and other Safety Training in Construction

The construction sector is one of the most high risk not just in Australia but globally and in most countries there is a mandatory safety course that construction workers must embark on before beginning work on a building site, Oz is no different. Construction employers often grapple with how to minimise expenses while improving productivity and increasing profits but they often overlook one very important aspect – Safety and in particular Safety Training.

In Oz we are required to complete the White Card course as proof that we are aware of the dos and don’ts of construction site safety, including what the law says but this mandatory training course should not be undertaken just as a means of fulfilling a legal requirement, it is also a valuable resource for workers who are about to begin work in a work environment rich with hazards and risks.

There are certain hazards that are common to almost every construction site whether it is a mining construction site, construction of an apartment building or road construction project and there are also those that are unique to certain sites. The White Card course teaches workers the general hazards that can be expected when working in the construction industry but additional site specific training is also required because no 2 sites will be the same, employers need to therefore address these individual hazards which may be unique to the site.

The White Card Course

The White Card course is the general construction safety training course which is mandatory for construction workers in Australia. Fortunately potential construction workers who do not wish to return to a traditional training environment but wish to complete the course can do so by simply logging onto www.whitecardonline.com.au following the prompts and completing the course online.

There is no hassle to register or stand in queues to register, neither is there any money wasted on transportation costs, textbooks and stationery, students simply register and pay online and begin the course which is administered online.

Most students choose to complete the course in just one day, usually taking just 3 or 4 hours but you can also complete it over a longer period of time without having to repeat any of the work. The system remembers where you leave off each time and when you sign in, you can simply pick up where you leave off.

Once you have completed the online portion of the assessments, you complete a short verbal assessment by calling into our call centre in Brisbane during office hours.

Thereafter you will receive a small credit card sized white card in the mail which must be retained as proof that you have completed the course. This White Card will allow you to work on a construction site anywhere in Oz and doesn’t limit you to working in any one specific state or territory.

Site Specific Training

Although our White Card course has been developed by experts in the construction health and safety industry, it is a general safety course meant to lay the groundwork for the safety knowledge that you will build up over time working on a construction site.

It is up to the employer or person undertaking the business to ensure that all workers have received any additional safety training that may be necessary. This training commonly called Site Specific training will teach workers about the hazards that are specific to their work site and job descriptions.

Such issues as emergency response procedures developed for the site, safety plans etc. will all form part of this site specific training which will obviously differ from site to site. No 2 sites are ever the same, so the hazards and strategies associated with them will also differ.

Employers Additional Responsibilities

Once workers have received the site specific training as well as the general construction induction training, the first thing employers should do is identify the hazards on site. Hazards may be common to the construction industry or unique to your specific site. Employers must consult with workers when identifying these hazards because some hazards may only be known to those workers involved in the specific task. Those responsible for safety should also go through injury records to identify the most common risks.



White Card Update: Addressing the Main Causes of Accidents in the Construction Sector

One of the main purposes of the White Card course which is mandatory for all construction workers is to teach people entering the construction field about the common concerns and their duty of care when it comes to safety on construction sites.

The white card will provide the general safety knowledge necessary to avoid injury on a construction site but it is also useful for workers who have already completed their white card training to refresh their safety knowledge. Also this post will provide potential construction workers with some idea of the most common risks that face people working on construction sites so that they can make a better informed decision.

The most common accidents on construction sites include:

  1. Slips, trips and low falls
  2. Falls from heights
  3. Struck-by accidents
  4. Crushing Injuries
  5. Electrocution

Although these are the 5 most common causes of injury on construction sites they aren’t the only ones. White card training and additional safety training provided by the employer are necessary to ensure workers are well equipped to deal with the hazards of construction work.

  • Slips, trips and low falls

This is the most commonly occurring type of accident on a construction site. Although the injuries they cause are usually minor, they can also be life -threatening.

Too vast to cover in a single post this hazard is not unique to any one trade on the site, everyone on site may be exposed at some point to this hazard therefore it warrants particular attention from employers when safe work plans are being devised and taught to workers. Consider the risks associated with this hazard, they range from musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. strained ankle) to puncture wounds (from falling on sharp materials). And minor accidents aren’t the only risks, fatalities can also occur for example if a worker slips or trips onto a sharp object or breaks his or her neck.

  • Falls from height

All over the world falls from height are the most common cause of fatalities on construction sites and on work sites in general. Those involved in high rise construction in particular need to be especially cautious because there are number of work processes which can result in a potentially lethal fall from height. These include:

Inadequate, incorrectly erected scaffolding,

Absence of edge protection,

Unguarded openings in or on roofs of buildings,

Missing edge protection in roof work,

High risk demolition work

Incorrect and negligent use of ladders and hoists

  • Crush injuries

Crushing injuries can occur as a result of machinery, equipment or traffic on a construction site. They can also be a result of unsafe excavations often lead to fatal accidents or serious injuries.

People working in trenches can be crushed when the sides of the trench are inadequately supported, particularly during heavy rainfall or when construction vehicles are operated too close to trench edges.

Other structures such as walls that aren’t braced can also collapse because they aren’t properly supported.

  • Struck By Accidents

One of the worst risks that construction workers are exposed to is that of being struck by falling objects, materials or tools. Although PPE such as hard hats are mandatory on every construction site because of this risk, it is particularly concerning because it is out of a person’s control. For example a worker can be going about their business on the ground floor when another worker accidentally drops a tool or building materials from a higher level, hitting the worker on the lower level, possibly even fatally wounding that worker.

Issues such as lack of toe boards on scaffolding, lack of tool belts for workers, insufficient storage and stacking, and poor housekeeping can increase the risk of struck by accident.

Workers on site can also be struck by machinery and heavy equipment on site. Improper use of hoists, cranes and other heavy machinery can result in struck by accidents or crushing accidents. Proper traffic plans on site, training and ensuring that operators are high risk certified are vital to minimising struck by accidents involving construction heavy machinery and vehicles.

  • Electrocutions

Electrocutions are another common occurrence on construction sites and they are usually as a result of contact with underground or overhead live cables. Working with faulty equipment, power cords and cables that have exposed wires are also a risk to workers.


White Card Update: Keeping Plant and Machinery in Good Condition

An important part of workplace health and safety on construction sites in particular involves ensuring that all plant, machinery and equipment is properly maintained and in excellent working order to ensure its continued effectiveness. Machinery that is not properly maintained poses a health and safety risk which is why part of the safety plan should include the maintenance and repair of these vital tools to the job.

Despite the need for maintenance and repair being vital to maintaining a safe working environment, these maintenance and repair operations can in themselves become a hazard if they aren’t planned and managed properly. They also pose a risk if the safety plan doesn’t take them into account because the plan is not regularly reviewed.

Particularly in high risk industries such as construction, the risks involved with heavy machinery should never be underestimated or overlooked, which usually happens when they are introduced into the site after the safety plan has already been developed.

Companies who fail to identify and address the hazards associated with plant, machinery and equipment face not only heavy fines but possible workplace injuries and fatalities.

A steel manufacturing company recently found this out the hard way after they were fined $56,250 because of failing to ensure that plant was properly maintained.

The following excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au explains:

A steel manufacturing company was fined $56,250 plus legal fees on Monday for operating a heavy goods lift despite several identified risks.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 for failing to ensure that plant was maintained in a safe condition.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/steel-manufacturer-fined-plants-unsafe-condition/

According to reports an investigation was carried out following an incident which left one worker with minor injuries when he fell 16 metres down a lift shaft. The lift was apparently not in a safe condition and the door guides were missing. The article goes on to explain:

Investigation revealed that the lift was not in a safe condition due to missing door guides, a worn door lock, broken emergency access devices and a pool of water in the bottom of the lift pit.

SafeWork SA Executive Director, Bryan Russell, reminded businesses to focus on following up risk assessments, audits and actions.

“Companies can maintain their excellent safety records by regularly auditing and inspecting and, acting to mitigate risks and hazards,” said Mr Russell.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/steel-manufacturer-fined-plants-unsafe-condition/

As SafeWork SA highlighted, regular review and auditing of safety plans and procedures is necessary to ensure plans continued effectiveness.

Simply implementing a good and thorough safety plan is not sufficient to ensure accidents are avoided. Although this may be sufficient at first, these safety plans must be reviewed regularly, as the work on the site progresses and the environment and work processes change. The safety plan must change together with the site if necessary and in order to determine whether alterations to the safety plan are necessary, the plan should be regularly reviewed.

Regular Revision of safety training and safe work procedures is also necessary as the construction progresses to ensure the continued effectiveness of the control measures and that workers are aware of the changes.

Beware of Traffic on Construction Sites

An accident which happened on a mining site last year is a reminder of the need for adequate traffic management on work sites. The results of the investigation into the incident were just released, indicating that the light motor vehicle involved was at fault.

The accident took place at BHP’s Mt. Arthur Coal Mine last year and has been under investigation. A report was recently released by the Mine Safety Investigation Unit who discovered that the driver of the light motor vehicle had in fact been negligent of the site’s safety protocols which resulted in a collision with a dozer on the site.

This is also a reminder of why anyone involved in Mining construction must undergo the necessary general safety training, in Australia this training is known as The White Card course.

Anyone who engages in work in the construction industry, including mining construction must undergo White Card training to ensure that they are aware of the hazards presented by this type of work site. It is also important because mining construction is one of the most high risk industries in Australia, but despite the risks it is a popular sector because of the rewards and financial benefits it has to offer.

As the driver of the bulldozer found out, on a work site the actions of others can have serious implications for you and vice versa. The mistakes of one person can impact another or the entire site which is why the federal government has made White Card training compulsory for everyone in construction related industries.

For example if you are a construction vehicle operator or driver, even when you are sticking to the site’s traffic plan and basic safety requirements, if another driver isn’t, there is the chance that he/she could crash their vehicle into you or their actions could cause you to crash. That is why you as well as every other worker need to be adequately trained. The most basic of construction safety training is White Card training.

The Mt. Arthur Coal Mine accident was the  fault of the light motor vehicle driver however the bulldozer driver also suffered the repercussions. According to the report the LV driver and dozer operator had discussed the dozer smoothing out the new access ramp while the LV driver waited at the designated parking area until the dozer had completed the job.

However due to an apparent misunderstanding the LV driver began moving the vehicle towards the dozer, believing that the back blading work had been completed. The LV driver tried signalling the dozer operator via the radio but because he was on another radio channel, the communication did not go through.

The report also stated that the LV driver had stopped at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the dozer to stop. When it became evident to the LV driver that the dozer operator was not going to stop, he attempted to engage reverse gear however was unable to do so and began sounding the LV’s horn.

As the dozer moved toward the LV, the LV driver remained in his vehicle. The dozer operator was unaware that the LV had approached within 50m of the dozer and was directly behind the dozer.  The dozer operator who was concentrating on the back blading task did not see the LV as he continued to reverse the dozer.

The report then stated that the dozer reversed 2.5m over the passenger’s side of the LV with its left hand track before stopping and moving forward. Luckily the driver of the LV managed to escape without injury.

In a situation such this one proper planning should have preceded the task. For example the vehicles should have been on the same radio channel so that communication was possible during the operation. Operators should have been trained to do this before beginning such tasks. Some of the other recommended measures include:

  • Having designated roads and access areas on the site for LV use only.
  • Use of proximity detection and/or collision avoidance technology
  • Better traffic planning and management of LV ad heavy machinery interactions

On any type of construction site traffic management is a crucial part of the safety planning. This incident is just one of a possible countless number of scenarios involving vehicles that can and have taken place on construction and mining sites and these operators were extremely lucky that no fatalities took place.

The most important consideration is probably the development of a traffic management plan. An adequate traffic management plan will at the very least:

  • Separate vehicle traffic and pedestrians
  • Use barriers to keep pedestrians and traffic apart
  • Provide separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible
  • Provide signage at crossing points and ensure these are properly lit.
  • When exiting the site, make sure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it

White Card News: Workplace Injuries Cost Economy $30 billion a year

According to a new study, Aussie businesses and the economy are losing up to $30 billion every year due to workplace injuries.

Now an Australian company, Konekt is urging employers to help get workers back on the job to help minimise this number.

According to the student conducted by the company which helps rehabilitate injured workers, the annual cost of workplace injuries are attributed to lost salaries, legal and administrative costs, medical expenses etc. By acting to get workers back into the workforce sooner, businesses could save themselves and the economy a lot of money.

The company’s research shows that if a person stays off work for 20 days they are 70 per cent likely to return to work but if they are off for 70 days or more, they are only 35 per cent likely to return. So the longer a worker is off work, the less likely it is that they will return at all.

According to the company, Australia is fairly slow to respond to workplace injuries when it comes to early intervention with most companies waiting to receive a formal claim or complaint before they take any action.

In addition to supporting workers and helping them return to work as soon as safely possible, it is also vital that employers provide workers with a safe work environment and system of work, as is their duty of care under the law.

The majority of workplace injuries are avoidable and are usually a result of human error. While we all make mistakes, workplaces should have the necessary controls in place to ensure that these mistakes are kept to a minimal. One very important consideration is that everyone on the site is qualified to be there. In the construction industry this means that every person must have completed general construction induction safety training.

Laying a good foundation of knowledge regarding safety is vital in ensuring workers stay safe on site and do not endanger the lives of their co-workers – the white card course does this thereby positively affecting construction safety and minimising the number of incidents and injuries.

This training is mandatory for all construction workers in Oz under national law and failing to ensure that any one of your workers hasn’t completed this training not only makes you liable to receive a fine but can jeopardise the safety of other workers on site as well.

If an injury does occur, workers must ensure that they complete a claim form in order to claim compensation for the injury. Workers should not be fearful of filing a claim because employers cannot victimise you for doing so, neither can they fire you.

If you require time off work or if you wish to return to work on light duty, you should obtain a certificate of competency from a medical practitioner as soon as possible. But it is also important that you recover and return to work as soon as possible without negatively impacting your health.


Return to Work Safely

The holidays are over and it’s almost time for most of us to get back to work which is why WorkSafe WA has issued a reminder to everyone returning to work to ensure safety when doing so after the long festive break.

Unfortunately this time of the year is usually one filled with workplace accidents, possibly due to the complacency people tend to show towards safety as they return from their holiday. But WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch is urging employers and workers not to become complacent.

McCulloch pointed out that this financial year we have seen way too many fatalities – nine to precise. Nine Australians have died in work related accidents this financial year already and even one death is one too many.

The Commissioner said that people who return to work after the holidays should be mindful of workplace risks and even appealed to people at work to “remain vigilant and aware” of the risks associated with their work.

WorkSafe also warned management and safety and health representatives to begin conducting pre-start inspections of workplaces and construction sites that were shut down over the festive period. This is to ensure that risks are minimised and no hazards are missed.

McCulloch also mentioned the tendency of many workers to “remain in holiday mode” even after returning to work from the festive break. Sometimes workers demonstrate this by not paying the proper attention to the task at hand, particularly on high-risk sites such as building sites. He warned that the consequences of such an attitude toward safety could be fatal.

McCulloch appealed to every employer and worker in the state to “reacquaint” themselves with the safe methods of work that apply to their workplace and the tasks they undertake before beginning the new year.

We want to start the year off well and hope for it to be a prosperous and safe year which is why we need to keep safety in mind especially when working in the construction industry because losing focus and averting our attention from safety can be deadly.

According to McCulloch in 2010/11 in WA there were 21 traumatic work related fatalities and in 2011/2012 it dropped to just 17. In 2012/2013 the number of fatalities was at 18, this is in addition to the 18,000 Western Australian workers who are injured each year and subsequently take time off work.

It is also important that as construction sites reopen, we are all aware of the importance of adequate training. It is the duty of employers as well as individual workers to ensure that they have completed general construction industry induction training and obtained their White Card as proof of doing so. Without this training they cannot legally work on any construction site, anywhere in Oz. They will also be more vulnerable to workplace injuries and accidents because of a lack of knowledge about general construction site safety.

So if you haven’t yet completed the training, make sure you start the year off right and get your White Card!