Falls the Focus of Cross Border Construction Program in Mildura

Source: Pixabay.com

The prevention of falls on construction sites was the recent focus of a joint program by SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria in Mildura in June.

The Cross Border Construction Program involved inspectors jointly visiting local building sites on both sides of the border to minimise the risk of workers being injured due to falls.

Inspectors were identifying safety risks and breaches and highlighting the similarities and differences between regulations in the 2 states.

Falls are a serious issue for the construction sector. Over the past decade 17 construction workers died due to a fall in Victoria.

In NSW, falls are responsible for the most number of deaths on construction sites. In 2017 the NSW government introduced new laws giving SafeWork NSW inspectors power to issue penalty notices of $3600 to companies and $720 to individuals for fall from height related  breaches.

Falls are just one of the health and safety issues that construction workers are faced with. In this high risk industry, it’s important that health and safety are the main priority.

One of the ways to ensure safety on construction sites is through worker training. Every worker must be adequately trained for the specific construction site and tasks they undertake but they must also be in possession of a White Card to prove they have completed general construction safety training as mandated by the federal government. Complete the White Card course online today and you are eligible to work on any construction site in Australia and across borders because the accreditation is nationally recognised.

Read more at http://www.worksafenews.com.au/news/item/665-falls-the-focus-of-cross-border-safety-program.html

New White Card Course and Assessment Now Live

White Card Online New Course

Our new White Card course has gone live this afternoon. This is a requirement of the regulators WorkSafe QLD and ASQA, and includes some increased requirements for assessments and student Identification.

White Card Online New Course

The new course uses Live Video assessments, where trainees will be required to demonstrate that they can put on four pieces of PPE – (rather unnecessary we think!), as well as answer some verbal questions.

We can also supply discount PPE packages, via Express Post for those trainees that don’t have their own

For more info, visit www.whitecardonline.com.au


Employers Urged to Protect Young Workers

WorkSafe Queensland has urged employers to protect young workers who are new to the job. This is a particularly important consideration for employers in high risk industries, of which construction is one.

Source: WorkSafe Queensland

WorkSafe reminds employers to manage risks associated with young workers to prevent injuries. It also highlights that these workers are more vulnerable because of a lack of experience.

Safety training, including White Card training, induction training and supervision are crucial to their safety. Find out more here.

Why Plumbers Need A White Card

So according to Professor Paul Dolan plumbers are the third happiest workers in the world – he documents the “happiest” workers in a new book.

While plumbers may be the among the happiest people, there are still risks involved with any type of construction work which is why in Australia, plumbers (and anyone else involved in construction work) must undergo general construction safety training. This training takes the form of the White Card course.

Most people are now choosing to complete the White Card course online, because it is more affordable and convenient.

But you may be asking yourself, why do plumbers need to complete the training when they aren’t exposed to the hazards that some other tradies are. For example electricians are exposed to high voltage and actually die from an electric shock, but why must plumbers undergo safety training?

To answer this question we need to look into a few of the risks associated with being a plumber.

1. Plumbers work with heavy and dangerous objects such as pipes. 

Heavy pipes and tools are needed for plumbing and these can pose a number of safety risks. Many involved in plumbing have suffered broken bones or musculo-skeletal disorders.

Also a plumber is expected to cut and bend very large and strong pieces of pipe, this process can be hazardous if the proper controls aren’t in place.

2. Plumbers Use Power Tools

Power tools are invaluable to plumbers and all tradies but they can present a significant risk. Accidents happen all the time, some are serious and some less serious but safety training is needed to ensure that plumbers know the basics of power tool safety.


3. Working at Great Heights and In Confined Spaces

A plumber may also be expected to work at varying heights and on scaffolding. As we know work from heights is the number one cause of injury among workers.


Plumbers will also be asked to work in confined spaces and possibly among chemical and noxious fumes which can accumulate in a confined space – they need to know what to do in these situations.

4. Work on Construction Sites

Ultimately anyone who enters a construction site on a regular basis needs to receive general construction safety training known as The White Card in order to fulfill a federal mandate.  However because construction is one of the most high risk industries, the knowledge passed along through White Card training is important in laying a good foundation of safety skills needed to operate safely on a construction site.

The hazards on a construction site abound, no matter the trade, but the White Card course covers the most common of these hazard in general.


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.

White Card Update: Latest Fatalities Report Released

The latest Safe Work Australian Notifiable Fatalities Monthly report has been released for December 2013 and according to it, there were 24 work related notifiable fatalities reported during this time.

Nineteen male workers as well as 1 female worker were killed and 4 innocent bystanders also lost their lives.

According to the report 11 deaths involved a vehicle crash on a public road and 4 were as a result of air crashes. A further 2 were caused by the victims being hit by moving objects and one was as a result of a fall from a height. One person was killed when hit/crushed by a moving object.

0The report reveals that the most number of deaths were linked to the transport, postal and warehousing industries which accounted for 15 deaths and mining was also a major contributor, causing 4 deaths.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries also accounted for 3 fatalities each with the manufacturing and retail industry accounting for one.

The following table shows which states were the most high risk in terms of workplace fatalities, with Queensland leading for overall fatalities followed by NSW,

Source: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/pages/notifiedfatalitiesmonthlyreport

Over the year (2013) 19 people lost their lives in the construction industry – one being a bystander not involved in construction work. Although this is an improvement from last year, it is still 19 fatalities too high.

In 2012 the number of people who lost their lives in the construction sector were 28. Although we experienced a slight drop in fatalities in 2013 as compared to the previous year, in 2011 there were just 14 deaths which indicates that we still have a long way to go in reducing fatalities in the construction sector.

According to the Notifiable Fatalities Report, the construction industry is responsible for the third highest number of fatalities, exceeded only by agriculture with 46 deaths and the transport industry with 82 fatalities.

Electrical hazards, slips trips and falls as well as hit by/crushed by incidents are still the leading cause of injury and fatalities on construction sites and it is important that we examine the reasons why these hazards are contributing to so many injuries and fatalities on building sites.

As the saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed however when it comes to electrical hazards, falls and heavy machinery and equipment on construction sites this doesn’t seem to be the case because despite being aware of the risks, we are still exercising complacency on site. That is one of the reasons why regular review of safety plans and continuous training and communication with (and among) employees is of the utmost importance.

It is not enough to simply ensure workers have undergone General Construction Safety training (White Card training), they need to be continuously addressed regarding site safety. Often when we work for several weeks, months or even years without any serious incidents taking place, we tend to become “soft” about safety and allow an atitude of complacency to set in, sometimes thinking we are invincible, too experienced or that incidents only happen to other people. This type of attitute is to blame for most of the accidents that take place on construction sites because despite having received the necessary training, many Aussie workers are still falling victim to senseless workplace injuries.

Importance of Ongoing Training

Many employers recognise the importance of ongoing training for professional development but fail to recognise the importance of ongoing safety training which is equally if not more important.

New and better safety techniques, equipment, plans etc are being developed all the time and if a worker hasn’t received safety training in the last 20 years, the chances are their knowledge is going to be outdated and possibly place them (and others) at risk.

Also consider that workers who have received their White Card training a very long time ago may have forgotten a lot of the information taught and therefore may need a refresher course to ensure they are aware of safety now!

As new hazards arise, which often is the case as the project develops and progresses, workers must be made aware in order to remain safe – this is why continuous communication is of utmost importance.

Importance of Communication

Beside the need for continuous training, continuous communication with employees is necessary including verbal and written communication in a language that workers understand.

A good habit to get workers into is talking about safety and holding a daily or weekly safety meeting with all workers to discuss issues and solutions.

Communication with employees in both directions (from employer to employee and vice versa) is crucial to ensuring everyone on site is on par when it comes to safety because as we already know the actions of one can influence the entire site.

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: Importance of Safety Plans and Training

Anyone involved in any type of construction including mining construction must undergo general construction safety training and when you review the figures over the last few years of the number of people who have been killed in the line of duty on mining sites, it only makes sense that the government has made the White Card a mandatory requirement throughout the Commonwealth for mining construction work.

Between the years 2000 and 2012 there were at least 52 fatal mining accidents in Western Australia alone, according to Department of Mines and Petroleum Safety Executive Director, Simon Ridge was quoted as saying in an article on SafetyCulture.com.au.

One of the recommendations made by the Department of Mines and Petroleum is that issues such as worker fatigue be addressed so that these figures decrease. The department has called for more regular breaks for mining workers who work 12 hour shifts. Understandably these workers suffer from fatigue and in this high risk environment, fatigue can prove fatal.

The following excerpt from the article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains further:

650x433xmines.jpg.pagespeed.ic.DHiIIE-Sma“In the 13-year period reviewed, the mining workforce rapidly increased from 40000 to 100000,” said Mr Ridge.

“Despite this, the number of fatalities per year showed a downward trend from seven in 2000 to zero in 2012, when the State recorded its first fatality free year in over a century of recorded history.”

“If we had a 100,000-strong workforce back in the 1950s, the average number of fatalities per year would have been around 200, so we have certainly come a long way but our ultimate goal moving forward is to become a ‘zero-harm’ industry.”

Read more at: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/study-mining-fatal-accidents-highlights-importance-safety-management-plans/

Mr Ridge was also quoted as saying that fatigue was a contributing factor in mine accidents by causing workers to lose concentration and be involved in a fatal accident. Mr Ridge was quoted as saying:

 “Fatigue was another contributing factor in the review, with the most common time of day for a fatal accident to occur being the last two hours of a typical day shift when a worker is more likely to lose concentration.”

Read more at: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/study-mining-fatal-accidents-highlights-importance-safety-management-plans/

He also called for the industry to consider a “robust safety induction program” such as the White Card induction course as well as the development of a positive safety culture and more effective implementation of fatigue management plans.

The mining industry has seen a number of fatalities even just over the last year which could be avoided with stricter health and safety adherence and controls that address fatigue as well as overall health and safety.

For those involved in mining construction it is important that workers undergo General construction safety induction training and obtain The White Card, this is a mandatory requirement and is proof that workers are accredited to work in mining construction.

The course covers in general the safety issues relating to construction which is most common as well as teaching people what the law says about occupational health and safety, an employer’s responsibility and workers’ duty of care.


White Card Update: Falling Hazard Prevalent on Construction Sites

A teenager has suffered head injuries after a bad fall from a roof in New South Wales.  The young man may have been involved in construction work being done on the roof of a home when the incident occurred.

SafetyCulture.com.au reported:

Workcover is investigating an accident last week where a teenager sustained head injuries after falling from the roof of a home at Stanwell Tops, north of Wollongong.

 The 14-year-old boy was taken to Sydney’s St George Hospital in a serious condition after falling three metres.

 A hospital spokeswoman says the teenager is in a stable condition.

 A Workcover spokesman says two workers were carrying out roof work when the accident happened.

 New South Wales Police are also investigating.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/nsw-teenager-falls-three-metres-from-roof/

When working on construction sites, especially when working from roofs or heights the danger of falling is a serious one which can result in injury or death.







Image Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/man-killed-in-roof-collapse-at-sunnybank/story-e6freoof-1226365636827

Another fall incident resulted in a hefty fine for a roofing company. The company was found negligent of safety breaches resulting in the fall of a worker after failing to provide sufficient roof edge protection. The worker was seriously injured during the incident.

An article on Au.new.yahoo.com reported:

An Auckland roofing firm has been ordered to pay over $50,000 for its safety failings after a staff member fell from a roof, fracturing his back.

In the Auckland District Court on Thursday a judge ordered Metalcraft Industries to pay a fine of $43,000 and reparations of $10,000 after an employee fell three metres from a one storey building while on the job.

The man slipped and fell while trying to secure a safe hold on a damp edge of a roof on a Glen Innes home, a statement from the Department of Labour (DOL) said.

He fractured his lower back, several ribs and injured his shoulder.

A DOL investigation found the fall could have been prevented if Metalcraft Industries had put in place roof edge protection for its three staff members working on the house.

“We expect everyone with staff or contractors working at height to actively manage this significant hazard,” northern general manager John Howard said.

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/queensland/a/-/latest/13771117/roofing-firm-to-pay-53k-for-workers-fall/

What can be done to prevent falls?

A fall from any height can result in injury or even death so a system of risk management is the best approach to address the issue. The system includes identifying, assessing and controlling the risk   or planning fall protection at the design stage of the construction project.

Falls from heights are the most common cause of death on building and construction sites, so developing and following a safe system of work is essential.

Step 1: Identify the hazards.  This could include for example: Working on a slippery or unstable surface or an elevated level.

Step 2: Assess the risk by taking the following elements into account:

  • Height at which the task is being performed
  • Condition of the supporting surface
  • The surface below the workers and the injury they could cause if fallen upon. Eg. unsheeted floor bearers and joists that could cause serious injury
  • Amount of experience the worker involved has
  • Weather conditions of outdoor sites
  • The duration of the task

Step 3: Control the risk

Fall protection measures should be developed to suit the particular task and the severity of the risk. In developing emergency procedures, the different types of emergency and rescue scenarios that might arise should be considered.

Eliminate the hazard

Working on the ground is the most effective method of protecting workers from fall hazards. This is not always possible, so the hazard has to be managed.

Substitute with a safer surface

Use temporary work platforms such as properly erected scaffolds or elevated work platforms.

Isolate the hazard

Use physical barriers to protect workers from falls.

Engineering controls

Use “work positioning” systems that will position and safely support a worker at the location where the task is to be performed.

Administrative controls

Administrative controls require a high level of training and supervision to be effective and are often supported with other fall protection measures. Eg. Use of warning signs to warn workers of falling hazard.

Personal protective equipment

Use personal protective equipment to minimise injury in the event of a fall. Make sure workers are trained on correct use of PPE.