Eight Months = One Hundred Lives Lost on The Job

safework
SafeWorkAustralia.gov.au

According to Safe Work Australia more than 100 Australian workers have died on the job since the start of this year.

The report by Safe Work revealed as at 8 September 2015 that 100 workers had lost their lives at work. The industry with the highest fatality rate is the transport, postal and warehousing industry with 18 fatalities recorded in 2015.

The Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry recorded 25 fatalities followed by the construction industry in third place with 14 fatalities. The mining industry is in fourth place with 10 fatalities recorded.

Safe  Work Australia has identified the construction industry as one of the priority industries due to its hazardous nature.

Find out more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/09/100-australian-workers-killed-eight-months/#.Vf8mEd-qqkp

 

 

Returning to Work Swiftly after Injury Best for All

nishi worker
Source: CanberraTimes.com.au

Although we’ve always been under the impression that a worker should return to work as swiftly after an accident as safely possible, now Fair Work Australia is informing businesses that enforceable undertakings (EU) make sure the incidents that caused the injury don’t happen again.

EUs allow employers to voluntarily address hazards, agree to preventative actions, and demonstrate a desire to integrate injured workers back into the workforce.

To find out more, visit Sourceable.net.au

Changes to the National Construction Code (NCC)Could Boost Timber Construction

lumber_skyscraper_intro
Source: Arstechnica.com

Proposed changes to the NCC could see expansion in the use of timber in the construction industry. The changes would see timber construction in buildings up to 8 storeys for apartments, hotels and offices.

The changes are being pushed by the Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited (FWPA) who have consulted with representatives from timber, building and insurance industries and met with regulatory bodies and specifically with fire authorities.

Entitled, The Proposal for Change to the National Construction Code Volume 1, if passed would boost the use of timber in the construction industry quite drastically.

Read more here.

 

White Card News: Worker Fall from Scaffolding results in Fatality

We’ve had a tragic start to the New Year after a worker on a construction site in Sydney died after falling from a scaffold on a building site.

The tragic incident took place at a site in Bangaroo, central Sydney where emergency crews were called to the scene around 8:30am in the morning.

Emergency personnel were told that the worker had been engaging in work on a scaffold when he fell approximately 30 metres.

While waiting for emergency crews to arrive the man’s co-workers performed CPR in efforts to revive the fallen worker but unfortunately he was pronounced dead shortly after paramedics arrived.

Work on the site grinded to a halt following the disturbing incident and police as well as WorkCover NSW investigations are ongoing.

Reports claimed the worker was a general labourer who had been engaged in general construction work at the time of the fall.

The CFMEU was quick to criticise the company responsible for the site, Lend Lease saying that they did not provide the 30year old worker with sufficient supervision.

There are very little details on the incident at the moment but the company says that all control measures were in place for working from heights and that emergency response procedures were also in place.

The incident is a harsh reminder of the need for not only the appropriate supervision of workers but adequate training as well.

In my opinion, safety training in an industry as high-risk as construction is the most important training that a worker can undergo. Employers must ensure that workers undergo safety training and are appropriately trained for the work they will undertake, in this case work from a scaffold.

Obviously the first type of training that workers in the construction industry must undergo is White Card training. This training is general construction industry induction training and teaches all workers, regardless of their trade or experience, how to safely work on a construction site.

The second type of training that all construction workers must undergo is Site Specific training to familiarise them with the hazards associated with work on their specific site and the control measures and procedures implemented by site controllers to deal with them.

Additionally, employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers have the knowledge and sufficient experience to undergo the specific tasks they are appointed. For example workers who will be engaging in general construction work from a scaffold must be trained on work from heights and how to work safely from a scaffold, in addition to receiving White Card and Site Specific training. While White Card training does cover the topic of Work from Heights, it is a broad subject and needs to be addressed more thoroughly by employers.

 

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.

 

White Card News: Construction Worker dies in Road Construction Zone Accident

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A picture of the overturned vehicle which crashed into a road construction site killing one person.

Source: http://www.oceancountysignal.com/2012/08/15/driver-escapes-injury-in-rollover-accident-on-the-garden-state-parkway/

Tragedy has struck an American road construction zone in South Dakota highlighting the danger that road construction workers are placed in every day.

The accident happened on Tuesday evening last week when a vehicle collided with a construction zone adjacent to the roadway. The details of the accident are still under investigation however the picture above shows us how serious this crash was. Read what the post on OceanCountrysignal.com reported on the incident,

One person was killed in a vehicle accident Tuesday evening in a construction zone in the Industrial Park, close to the intersection of North Enterprise Street and Capital Avenue Northeast, police Capt. Dave McNeil said.

Details of the accident were still under investigation as of Tuesday evening, McNeil said.

It was unclear what vehicle or vehicles were involved in the accident.

The victim, whose name will not be released until family members are notified, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, said Michael Carlsen, Brown County coroner.

Read the full article at: http://articles.aberdeennews.com/2013-07-23/news/40755398_1_vehicle-accident-brown-county-sheriff-battalion-chief

Something this incident makes perfectly clear is that road construction zones are construction sites like any other and so the hazards associated with them need to be treated as any hazard on any construction site would be. One of the biggest differences though, which needs to be taken into consideration is that road construction workers aren’t always in control of their own safety – drivers can place road construction workers lives at risk, sometimes with tragic circumstances.

While no one has control over another’s actions, as road construction workers and principal contractors of road work sites we can manage the hazards presented by civilian drivers.

Contractors should ensure the drivers are aware of the road construction zone well in advance so that they have sufficient time to adjust their driving and speeds. Road signs, markings, delineation devices should be used to warn drivers of road works ahead of them.  Also periodically drive through the worksite to check that all signs, markings and delineation devices, as seen by other road users, are satisfactory and in their correct position that is adequately visible.

Workers that do not need to be exposed to hazards, shouldn’t be. In the same regard, any workers who are on a break need to be in an area away from the hazard and clear of the work site.

Mobile plant should be parked in a safe spot, away from traffic lanes. Instruct traffic controllers to remain on the job (though relieve them as necessary) where there are traffic hazards, or where only one lane is open to traffic.

Reposition barriers, signs and tapers as necessary to adjust the length of single lane traffic operation, keeping it to a minimum. Keep records of any changes made, and the time these occurred

Once work on the site has finished or workers leave, remove or cover signs such as Traffic Controller Ahead/PREPARE TO STOP.

 

White Card News: Electrician’s Fall results in $147,000 fine

Ask any worker on a construction site what the most common cause of serious injury is and most will agree falls from heights are major concern.

Recently another incident took place when a worker fell 3.4metres to the ground while engaging in work on a residential building site in Western Sydney. Falls from even relatively low heights can be dangerous so falls from this height are particularly concerning.

The two companies involved as well as a company director have been fined $147,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs by the courts.

The company involved, MRD Future Homes (Aust) Pty Ltd (MRD) a small construction company was contracted to build three two-storey townhouses under the same roof span in Canley Heights.MRD then subcontracted J & M Costa Enterprises Pty Ltd (J & M Costa to complete electrical work at the site. Both the companies subsequently received fines for the accident during which a 22 year old electrician working inside a townhouse fell through an opening on the first floor.

The worker fell over 3 metres onto a concrete floor below causing serious head injuries as well as multiple brain haemorrhages, a fractured collarbone and multiple spinal fractures.

WorkCover explained its’ investigation into the incident on its’ website WorkCover.nsw.gov.au:

A WorkCover investigation began and MRD, MRD’s director, and J & M Costa were each charged with a breach of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000. 

The investigation found that at the townhouse the open stairwell opening was without any fall protection.

• MRD pleaded guilty, was fined $70,000, and ordered to pay WorkCover legal costs.

• MRD’s director pleaded guilty, was fined $7000 , and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs

• J & M Costa pleaded guilty, was fined $70,000, and ordered to pay WorkCover legal costs.

WorkCover NSW’s acting General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said given the circumstances, any fall through the stairwell opening was likely to be very serious, and the risk should have been better managed.

Source: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/newsroom/Pages/$147,000infinedafterseriousfallinjureselectrician.aspx

Regulation requires an approved safety system to 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 WorkCover NSW there was a clear safety breach by the companies involved here because if there were adequate safety measures in place this accident would most likely not have occurred because falls would have been guarded against. Falls from openings would have also been anticipated and the appropriate control measures would have been implemented to avoid serious injuries such as those suffered by the young workers. In this situation there was no fall protection, no handrail in place, no void platform or any physical barrier to avoid a worker falling through the hole.

This incident highlights the need for fall protection to be implemented but it also highlights how important it is that the proper safety protocols are maintained.

 

White Card News: Excavation Work results in Building Collapse

A construction firm in London has been fined over an incident which resulted in the collapse of a building. The company failed to properly plan and consult on excavation works.

Astbury Design and Build Ltd has been fined for neglecting basic construction safety after excavation work caused the structural collapse of an adjoining property in the area in February 2013.

According to media reports a foundation trench was excavated too close to foundations of the neighbouring semi-detached house. Thankfully the occupants of the house were not at home at the time and there were no injuries, but things could have been much more devastating.

Also safety investigators revealed that the owner of the property was not informed of the intention to excavate a trench or informed of how the work would be carried out, although by law he should have been.

This article from PPConstructionsafety.com explains what happened:

collapsehouse2The neighbour had appointed a party wall consultant regarding the ongoing works and the consultant warned Astbury not to undermine the foundations.

Experienced builder should have known better

Astbury Design and Build Ltd, of Bushbury Road, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was today fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gareth Langston said:

“This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented had Astbury Design and Build Ltd followed the recognised procedure relating to party walls and detailed the work to the neighbour’s consultant. The consultant would have realised the implications and stopped him. Even so, Mr Astbury is an experienced builder and should have known better in the first place.

The trench should have been dug in metre-long sections, pouring in concrete and waiting until it had set before digging the next section. This would have underpinned and supported the wall of the neighbouring house.

It was extremely fortunate that the occupants were out of the house at the time of the collapse. This could so easily have had much more serious consequences.”

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/06/05/building-collapse-caused-by-adjacent-excavation/

Experts highlighted that the excavation was incorrectly carried out and so the stability could not be guaranteed. Had the trench been dug in metre-long sections and concrete poured in,in stages before the next section was done, this incident could have been avoided. The process of doing the work in stages would have underpinned and supported the wall of the neighbouring house.

In order to manage risks under the WHS Regulations when undertaking excavation work a duty holder must:

  • identify any hazards that could give rise to the risk
  • eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk they must attempt to minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by implementing control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control
  • maintain the implemented control measure so that it remains effective
  • reviewand if necessary revise control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

Employers should then attempt to manage the risks associated with excavation work by following a systematic process that involves:

  1. identifying hazards
  2. if necessary, assessing the risks associated with these hazards
  3. implementing control measures, and
  4. maintaining and reviewing the effectiveness of control measures.

 

White Card News: National Asbestos Agency Launched

Good news for all Australians but especially those involved in renovation and demolition work, legislation has just been introduced to parliament for the establishment of an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister Shorten, announced the legislation a few weeks ago.

According to the Minister, Australia’s history of widespread use of asbestos in the past in many industries such as the building industry has left a legacy of asbestos-containing material on our environment which is potentially deadly.

An article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains more about the legislation and the Minister’s comments:

shorten_bill_080033_020_official_blue-150x150“It’s been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain. Asbestos is the worst industrial menace that will go on killing for decades,” Mr Shorten said.

“The sad truth is that asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and that tragically, we are expecting another 30-40,000 people to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years. There are children not yet born who will die of asbestos related diseases. We owe it to future generations to come to grips with the blight of asbestos.”

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 will establish the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and will work with jurisdictions for a nationally consistent approach on asbestos eradication, handling and awareness, including environmental and public health issues.

http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/national-asbestos-agency-legislation-launched/

Sadly Australia suffers from the world’s highest number of Mesothelioma infections, a deadly asbestos induced disease developed over a period of time due to asbestos exposure. That is why action is needed to ensure more Australians are not infected with this lethal sickness in the future.

The Minister went on highlighting some rather shocking and sad situations regarding asbestos in Oz:

“We have been reminded this week of the risks of asbestos to the community, with disturbing vision circulated of a truck illegally dumping asbestos material outside a preschool in Sydney. I am disgusted at the reckless, deliberate and callous behaviour displayed by the truck driver.”

“The Agency we are setting up will have amongst its first tasks the implementation of a plan to tackle illegal dumping and to encourage safe disposal across Australia.”

“The agency will work in tandem with all levels of government, unions, industry and support groups to implement a plan of action to eliminate asbestos exposure. This is the first time that we will have a coordinated approach to eradicating, and handling asbestos beyond our workplaces.”

http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/national-asbestos-agency-legislation-launched/

The post goes on to explain the review advocates that fast action is needed to prevent further asbestos related infections due to the deadly asbestos fibres being released into the air. The new plan will have to incorporate issues such as the identification of asbestos containing materials in buildings, asbestos removal, handling and storage as well as increasing asbestos education and awareness.

The Australian Government created the Office of Asbestos Safety in August 2012 to begin working with jurisdictions and stakeholders to start the development of the new national strategic plan by 1 July this year. The government aims to have the new agency up and running as of 1 July 2013.

You can visit http://deewr.gov.au/office-asbestos-safety to provide feedback on the draft plan at the Office’s website or to find out more.