Developer and Builder Prosecuted after Truck Toppled over Edge killing Driver

A British property developer and builder have been charged over an accident which led to the death of a driver on a construction site.

The 2 entities were ordered to pay a total of over £180,000 ($331,014.94) after one of their workers, Geoffrey Crow died when the 5 tonne dumper he was operating fell into a deep unguarded excavation. According to media reports, the vehicle overturned and landed directly on top of him, resulting in his death.

The court heard that Mr Crow was working at ground level whilst others were working to excavate a deep basement for a swimming pool at a new build property. The driver and the dumper went into a large excavation shortly after it had been freed from becoming stuck near the unguarded edge.

An investigation by that country’s health and safety executive discovered a number of health and safety failings going on at the site. Work on the site had been carrying on for three weeks but the following issues were discovered:

  • Lack of Edge protection – no measures were in place to prevent people or vehicles falling into the excavation;
  • No Collapse prevention – no measures to prevent collapse of the excavation sides;
  • Workers not Competent – workers on site were not familiar with operating plant machinery of the size used; and
  • Lack of Experience – workers did not have relevant experience in respect of such a large excavation.

In addition to these failings, the machine involved in the accident did not have an operational seat belt at the time of the accident. Other workers on site also admitted to not using seatbelts, obviously safety was not prioritised on the site and workers weren’t properly trained on safety.

The following excerpt from a post PPConstructionSafety.com explains more about the case,

dumperdeath1Speaking after sentencing HSE Inspector Stephen Manley, said:

“Working with construction plant can be extremely dangerous, which is why appropriate safety measures must be in place at all times to protect workers and others on site.

In this instance, Mr Crow died as a direct consequence of the lack of controls of the risks involved in the excavation operations. There was no protection whatsoever to ensure workers, whether driving machinery or otherwise, did not fall into the deep excavation.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/11/21/dumper-truck-driver-died-in-deep-excavation/

Mr Manley went on to explain that not only was the worker operating the dumper at risk, but everyone else on the site that day was at risk as well. This is because on a construction site the actions of one worker affect others on a site especially in this case where there were no physical controls. There was also a lack of maintenance of equipment which also posed a risk to workers. In addition to this lack of safety controls, workers were not properly trained. Most of them were not given the information they needed to do their jobs safely. Mr Manley also stated:

A number of people were at work with Mr Crow and they were all at risk of serious harm through the absence of physical controls, as well as poor maintenance of equipment and a lack of training and information provided to workers.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/11/21/dumper-truck-driver-died-in-deep-excavation/

There is no excuse to let operations continue without having the proper health and safety measures in place especially when there is so much guidance out there both for employers and employees. One of these in Oz is the White Card Course which is vital for every construction workers to ensure site safety.

 

Beware of Faulty Building Products putting Workers and the Public at Risk

Popular construction industry website Sourceable.net recently posted an article which highlighted the deteriorating quality of building products flooding the Australian market, putting not only workers but the public at risk.

According to the post, faulty construction products and materials are a real problem in Oz and are putting families and lives at risk.

A senior government minister said that poorly manufactured construction products and materials are becoming a major problem in Oz putting families and lives at risk as well as putting legitimate and compliant product suppliers at an unfair disadvantage. The shoddy products are obviously much cheaper than good quality, Australian produced products.

During a national meeting with construction industry leaders to discuss the problematic influx of sub-standard and non-conforming products onto the Australian market, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry Bob Baldwin spoke of the serious problems that are stemming from these products.

Mr Baldwin explained:

caution“These faulty products are not meeting Australian standards and causing significant risk of fire or failing the most basic of stress tests,”

Source: http://sourceable.net/faulty-building-products-flooding-australian-market-minister/#sthash.67EgvNx8.dpuf

 

 

Mr Baldwin went on to explain that families that renovated or built homes were entitled to be confident that the products used in the construction or renovation process were good quality and that the building was safe. Mr Baldwin said that an action strategy was needed to address these “unsafe” practices and stop them from taking place in Oz.

The following excerpt from Sourceable.net went on to explain:

Around Australia, the issue of non-conforming products used in residential construction caught public attention in August when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recalled around 40,000 electric cables supplied by Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd after testing found that poor quality insulation coating meant the cables would degrade prematurely and that the insulation could break and expose live conductors if the cables were disturbed, resulting in possible electric shock or fires.

http://sourceable.net/faulty-building-products-flooding-australian-market-minister/#sthash.67EgvNx8.dpuf

The article went on to discuss another incident which took place in 2012 which involved Grocon when they were forced to replace half of the glass they had used on a building project after vision panes to the glass were found to exhibit blue streaks in polarised light conditions. The replacement glass resulted in a significant financial expense. Companies can avoid the inconvenience and added expenses of replacing poor quality products by simply choosing better quality, Australian standard materials and products the first time around.

The Australian Windows Association, among other industry groups weren’t lying down to the spread of these low quality products. The group operates a ‘dob-in-a-site’ scheme which allows people to report any cases they believe a builder has installed non-compliant windows or doors. This can be done confidentially.

The Australian Procurement and Construction Council in September also implemented a procurement guide to assist designers and builders in understanding Australian regulatory and product requirements.

Housing Industry Association building spokesperson Kristin Brookfield expressed her support of the initiative. She said that much of the problem could be attributed to “a lack of coordination and oversight amongst regulatory authorities”.

Brookfield went on to explain:

“This is an increasing problem for the whole building industry, and no one wants to see a significant or catastrophic failure occur,” she said. “It’s time that all levels of government worked together to seriously address the issue.”

See more at: http://sourceable.net/faulty-building-products-flooding-australian-market-minister/#sthash.67EgvNx8.dpuf

 

Demolition Worker Killed in Sydney

A part of the construction process that is especially concerning because of the high risk associated with it is demolition. An incident that happened in Sydney recently highlights the dangers surrounding demolition work. A worker was killed during demolition when a steel pipe he was cutting struck him on the head. Apparently the pipe wasn’t well supported when it swung down and hit the man in the head, causing fatal injuries.

An article on SkyNews.com.au reported on the tragic incident:

skynews.img.1200.745A family’s in mourning today after a father watched his son die when a pipe struck him on the head at an inner Sydney demolition site.

The man in his 30s was hit by the heavy steel pipe as he was cutting it above his head at a construction site in Redfern.

The man was working for his father’s demolition business and his father and brother were there at the time.

See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/local/sydney/2014/11/15/family-mourns-sydney-demolition-worker.html#sthash.YDJPpvru.dpuf

Construction workers performing demolition work are exposed to many hazardous conditions and materials. Although a contractor should prioritise the safety of employees, there should also be heightened awareness for the safety of the general public and the property of others when demolition work is going on.

As this incident proves, even workers involved in demolition need to be trained on safety because even more so than other construction workers, these employees are exposed to a number of risks that are often life threatening.

Safety training for demolition workers and in fact all construction related fields should involve the White Card course.

Workplace health and Safety (WHS) is one of the most important issues for employers to consider but it is also the responsibility of employees. Employees in the construction sector including demolition workers, those involved in mining construction, road construction etc. must undergo safety training prior to entering a site and must apply the knowledge learnt while engaging in work on the site.

Workers must abide by the training they have been provided and follow safety procedures as set out by their employers. They must also utilise PPE as directed by employers and never work in an unsafe manner that would risk their own health and safety and that of their co-worker/s. One form of personal protective equipment which cannot be compromised is the hard hat.

Protecting one’s head is important and mandatory on every construction site, so that accidents such as the one above can be avoided. There are a number of incidents that can occur on a construction site which can injure a worker in the head such as falling objects, slips, trips and falls etc. That is why wearing a hard hat is so important and can be life-saving.

Every worker should complete the online White Card Training Course to certify that they are qualified to work on a site and aware of important safety controls such as the use of hard hats on construction sites and numerous other measures.

Each worker on site is ultimately responsible for his own safety but they also have a responsibility to ensure that he/she does not put the lives of his/her co-workers at risk.  Therefore no matter the task being undertaken, every construction worker should ensure that he is working safely and according to the safety training he/she has received. Workers should also receive white card training so that they are aware of the responsibilities of their employer and can feel free to take any matters involviing safety up using the relevant channels.

 

Lack of Communication leads to Near Miss on Building Site

One of the greatest enemies to workplace safety especially on construction sites is a lack of communication or ineffective communication.

Communication particularly relating to safety is a matter of life and death on construction sites which is why employers need to ensure that communication is taking place about the important issues and that this communication is being understood by workers. It is also vital that all the risks have been identified, assessed and dealt with beforehand to avoid workers paying the price.

An accident on a British construction site which resulted in the injury of worker was caused by incorrect information being given to the worker which led to him cutting a cable which was live with his angle grinder. Had it been communicated to the worker that the cable was still live, the accident could have been avoided.

The company responsible have been prosecuted by Liverpool authorities. The following excerpt from a post on PPConstructionSafety.com explains more about what happened:

electricalexplosion1Vermont Capitol Ltd has been prosecuted after a labourer cut through a mains electricity cable after 22-year-old was told the supply had been disconnected.

He was thrown across a basement when his angle grinder made contact with the live wires on a Liverpool building in August 2013.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard (23 October 2014) the company was clearing the site prior to construction of student flats at the end of a row of Grade-II-listed Regency terraced houses.

The end terrace had been partially demolished after becoming structurally unsound, leaving the façade and basement on the building site.

The court was told the workman was instructed to remove old pipes and cables from the cellar. The mains supply was not disconnected contrary to information provided to the site manager.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/10/28/labourer-cheats-death-in-cable-strike-incident/

The writer also highlights that there was a flash as the workman cut into the cable and he suffered injuries to his elbow and shoulder. The man was thrown across the room and lucky for him, his protective clothing prevented him from suffering burns or being more seriously injured.

Although this company seemed compliant in other areas, such as providing adequate PPE to workers, they failed to ensure the worker was aware that cable was live and was actually instructed by his supervisor to cut into the cable.

The charges against the company are as follows and highlight that written confirmation is necessary when energy work is concerned:

Vermont Capitol Ltd, of Liverpool, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £980 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 34(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 which states: “where necessary to prevent danger, energy distribution installations shall be suitably located, checked and clearly indicated.”

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/10/28/labourer-cheats-death-in-cable-strike-incident/

Following the incident a health and safety inspector, Chris Hatton was quoted as saying that the young worker was lucky to be alive, let alone to receive such minor injuries. The electric shock he suffered could have also been much worse as it came from a mains cable which was probably carrying at least 240 volts of power.

The worker was also placed in direct risk of losing his life because the  team on the site had been told all of the utilities entering the site had been disconnected and so the worker had no way of knowing he was actually cutting into a live electricity cable.

It is important that builders and developers get written confirmation that supplies have been disconnected before undertaking work with gas pipes and electricity cables.

 

High Rate of Worldwide Suicide Calls for Attention

Most people have been affected by a suicide tragedy at some time in some way, whether it was a loved one, a neighbour, a friend or even a co-worker. Sadly the World Health Organisation has released a report that highlights the issue of suicide. According to the report somewhere in the world someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds. What is most concerning is that this is an avoidable tragedy yet it is so common and the instances are growing each year.

The report led to the World Health Organisation called for national suicide prevention strategies to be implemented worldwide.

According to the report in 2012, Southeast Asian countries made up over a third of annual suicides – around 39 per cent, but only had 26 per cent of the world’s population. The report also revealed that men were twice as likely to commit suicide then women. Given that construction is still largely a male dominated industry, not only in Oz but globally, this may explain why construction workers are considered high risk when it comes to suicide.

The following excerpt from an article on Sbs.com.au explains more about the report released a few weeks ago,

(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Researchers studied 172 countries to produce the report, which capped a decade of research, comparing suicide rates between genders and age groups of a country.

Data around suicide deaths and attempts is often unreliable. Suicide is still illegal in some countries and in others suicide deaths are commonly misclassified.

The WHO report, called ‘Preventing suicide: A global imperative’, now provides a way to determine who is most at risk, as well as providing indications on the best suicide prevention approach.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/09/04/worldwide-reforms-needed-tackle-suicide-emergency

Since the year 2000 suicide in Oz has declined. Good news but in the construction industry we still need to pay particular attention to this issue to overcome the high number of apprentices and other construction workers who take their own lives because of workplace pressures.

Professor Diego De Leo, Director of the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University and one of the reports co-authors explains:

“Suicide is today a recognised emergency, a major public health problem,” he says.

This emergency exists depite the fall in global suicide deaths by around nine per cent since 2000.

The suicide rate in Australia has dropped by 10.6 per cent in that same period.

“Using the same estimates, the WHO report for 2000, nearly 890 thousand deaths and for the present report data which is the latest available, the year 2012, the amount globally is for 803,900 cases,” says Professor De Leo.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/09/04/worldwide-reforms-needed-tackle-suicide-emergency

The report also highlights that in high income countries like Oz the biggest concentration of deaths by suicide is in middle aged and males, also in females but middle aged.

A health advocate in Oz, Sue Murray, the CEO at Suicide Prevention Australia and spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention believes Australia should be aiming higher than the target set by the WHO. Murray explained that the national coalition has set its target not at a 10 per cent reduction in suicides in 10 years but in fact a 50 per cent reduction in suicides in ten years. She goes on to state:

“At the moment each of the states have a strategy. We have a framework called ‘Living is for Everyone’ at a national level, but we don’t have anything that actually sets down some clear directions, some clear strategies and some clear targets,” she says.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/09/04/worldwide-reforms-needed-tackle-suicide-emergency

The first step in achieving this ambitious target according to Murray is obtaining more accurate data so an effective suicide prevention plan can be developed.

For additional information or support regarding suicide in Oz contact:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14,
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

 

Dump Truck Collides with Worker at Heathrow Airport

One of the hazardous situations which are often overlooked on construction sites are those presented when machinery, vehicles or equipment break down and people are brought in to repair these items. Maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment on construction sites presents its own risks which is why those responsible for the site and the repairs, need to have safe work plans in place to avoid incidents taking place where people are injured and even killed. Such a construction accident has taken place at the world’s busiest airport, Heathrow involving a contractor and a dump truck.

The accident happened when a mobile hoist failed and was being repaired by the victim. A dumper truck which was also in operation at the time, collided with the worker, resulting in his death.

According to reports in the media, the accident happened on 2 October 2014 on a construction project at Heathrow Airport controlled by Laing O’Rourke. The fatal accident apparently occurred on the Terminal 2 multi storey car park project where the victim was struck by a dumper truck while working on the night shift.

The accident occurred after a mobile hoist broke down on the site and a colleague was using a dumper truck to shift the hoist when the truck hit into the victim. The man died at the scene.

According to an article on PPConstructionSafety.com the incident unfolded as follows:

“Police were called by London Ambulance Service at 04:46hrs on Thursday, 2 October to Cayley Road, close to the Ground Floor Car Park at Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport, following reports of a road traffic collision.

Officers attended and found a man in his thirties suffering serious injuries following a collision with a truck. The man died at the scene a short while later at 05:45hrs. Next of kin have been informed but we await formal identification.

The driver of the truck stopped at the scene. It is not believed that any other vehicles were involved. HSE has been informed and enquiries are under way into the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

It is understood the £77m car park job is just weeks away from completion and hand over

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/10/02/fatality-dumper-truck-death-at-heathrow/

Even those workers who aren’t involved directly in the activity of building but whose jobs take them onto a construction site are at risk of serious injuries, as the incident above highlights and must undergo the necessary safety training, including White Card training according to federal law.

It is also important to remember that according to federal law anyone whose work brings them to a construction site regularly, such as construction vehicle and equipment mechanics must undergo the General Construction Induction course known as The White Card.

Even mechanics working on the heavy vehicles and machinery used for construction need to undergo this training and it is in their best interest to do so as the incident mentioned above proves.

 

Fall from Height Leaves Worker Paralysed

The risk of death when working from a height, particularly a height above 2 metres is not the only risks associated with such work, sometimes workers may escape with their lives but may still be forever affected by the incident, as one worker recently found out. The man was left paralysed after he fell just 3 metres whilst standing on top of a piece of machinery.

The man was paralysed from the neck down following the accident due to irreversible damage to his spine.  The incident took place on a work site in The Uk, as the following excerpt from an article on safety website PPConstructionSafety.com explains:

gritterThe incident occurred at the company yard in Kilsyth when Mr Shields had climbed the ladder at the rear of the vehicle to gain access to the top of the gritter and then slipped and fell head first onto the ground.

He was rushed to hospital but was found to have sustained several fractures of his spine, leaving him paralysed. He remained in hospital until July 2011 and later had surgery to his right arm that has provided him with some limited movement.

HSE investigators found the company failed to take sufficient measures to prevent falls where work was being carried out at height.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/06/12/fall-from-mobile-plant-leaves-workman-paralysed/

The machinery was not properly designed and the worker was not provided with the proper PPE and fall protection to prevent him from falling 3 metres to the ground. Authorities highlighted that the incident could have been avoided if employers had taken suitable precautions or used alternative means of accessing the machine, such as a tower scaffold.

Ultimately a lack of planning can be blamed in this incident, which highlights the need for proper safe work plans to be developed when high risk work is being undertaken. A simple hazard identification and risk assessment, together with the implementation of the appropriate controls would have negated this incident.

Hazel Dobb, health and safety inspector had this to say about the incident which cost the company thousands of dollars in fines but cost the worker much more, a lifetime confined to a wheelchair,

 “Mr Shields could have easily been killed. As it is, he has been left with irreversible injuries and he and his family have obviously been devastated.

Inex Works Ltd failed to make sure employees were able to work in safety. This incident could have easily been avoided as there were several other ways this work could have been carried out, such as using alternative means of access or use of a harness.

Tragically, that is a lesson for the company learned too late for Mr Shields.”

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/06/12/fall-from-mobile-plant-leaves-workman-paralysed/

Companies should learn from the example of this employer who unfortunately only realised too late what needed to be done to provide workers with a safe work environment and system of work- in Australia this is a requirement under work health and safety laws and must be established before work even begins.

Another requirement is ensuring that all workers have completed general safety training prior to beginning work, as proof each work should be in possession of a White Card.

Commercial Construction Activity Rising

It appears that commercial construction activity has finally started to show improvement, bringing its growth somewhat in line with that being experienced in the residential construction sector in Oz.

According to reports activity in the nation’s construction industry is expanding at a rate faster than it has for nine years and housing construction seems to be at the forefront of this growth.

The Australian Industry Group/ Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index rose 4.1 points to 59.1 points in September. This was the third consecutive month which indicated an increase and the fourth during which the index remained above the 50 level (level that separates expansion from contraction).

According to Harley Dale chief economist of the Housing Industry Association, residential construction will probably strengthen further for the rest of the 2014/15 financial year. He was quoted as saying:

 “The commercial construction sector finally appears to be following the lead of new residential construction, which is another pleasing outcome,” he said.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/australian-construction-strongest-9-years/#sthash.7oeZ1KTI.dpuf

According to Dr Dale the increase in the supply of residential dwellings may serve to keep rising housing prices at bay. Prices had been driven up by the influx of investors interested in existing home purchases.

Last month Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens mentioned that changing regulations was a possibility in order to curb risky lending to property investors. Stevens warned that this could threaten banking stability and ultimately the economy as a whole.

Dr Dale went on to explain that evidence of expansion in t  v he construction industry should continue into next year for the sake of the economy,

 “It will be important for the broader economy that evidence of strong performance in residential and improving performance in commercial construction presents itself throughout 2014 and into next year,” Dr Dales said.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/australian-construction-strongest-9-years/#sthash.7oeZ1KTI.dpuf

While most economists are confident that the growth being experienced will be maintained into next year, other forecasts have determined that we are headed for a skills shortage in the construction industry, as supply of skilled workers cannot keep up with the housing and commercial construction demand.

Over the next five years experts say the government may have to allow more skilled tradespeople into Oz on 457 VISAs in order to meet the demand for skilled labour in the construction sector.

In order to minimise the impact of this shortage and to ensure that the shortage does not hamper the expansion of the industry, and ultimately the prosperity of the economy as a whole, we must address the skills shortage now but training new workers in the construction trades.

In our training of new workers and apprentices it is important that we remember before even beginning on-the-job training on construction sites, every worker should be in possession of a White Card.

A White Card is a small credit card sized card which indicates that a person is accredited to work on a construction site. It is nationally recognised and is a mandatory requirement for all workers across Oz who work on construction sites.

2 Construction Workers Killed on Site

A horrific mishap has claimed the lives of 2 construction workers on a site in Georgetown Idaho recently. The terrible accident which took place on Thursday can only be described as a tragedy as the 2 men suffered one unfortunate event after another leading to their deaths.

First the workers were exposed to a combination of toxic fumes which probably caused the one worker to pass out, subsequently he was drown by the water inside the manhole in which they were working. One of the workers went in to assist the other worker who had passed out but also died in a similar manner. The following excerpt from a post on an Idaho news site KTVB.com explains further:

Jody Taylor says his son, 19-year-old Bo Taylor, and a co-worker, 46-year-old Trent Sorensen both died. Jody says it was a toxic combination of fumes inside a manhole that caused his son to pass out, then drown in the water below.

“The sealant we figure is what put off the fumes with the reaction of PVC liner, the fumes reacted with each other,” said Taylor.

Source: http://www.ktvb.com/

It is believed that when the senior worker realised what was going on and that his co-worker was in trouble that he entered the manhole to assist, however being asthmatic he also had difficulty breathing in the confined space of the manhole with the toxic fumes and this also resulted in his death. The post goes on to explain:

Jody says he believes Trent realized something was wrong, and went into the manhole as well to help get him out. He says Trent suffered from asthma and believes that had to do with his death.

“With the asthma Trent couldn’t breath trying to get Bo above the water, Trent just wasn’t strong enough to do it,” said Taylor. Both men passed away at a local hospital later that day.

“I stood beside my boy for 4 hours while they tried to get a pulse, tried to get anything,” said Taylor.

Source: http://www.ktvb.com/

The younger victim was the son of the company’s owner and the other deceased worker was a close friend of the family’s,which makes the incident even more tragic. Sorenson had been employed by Mr Taylor for decades and his son Trent had been working in the company for 2 years.

Mr Taylor described the anguish he felt at the passing of the 2 men,

“It was a clean new manhole, fresh water in it, it was a fluke, 100 % crazy accident,” said Taylor. Now, he’s helping to plan both funerals and he’s looking back on his son’s short life. “He was always happy no matter what he had to do or what he was going through he was always happy,” said Taylor.

As for the safety equipment, Taylor says they had everything they needed, but could not have predicted the combination of materials would become so toxic.

Source: http://www.ktvb.com/

Mr Taylor described the incident as a “fluke” but in my opinion it demonstrates the harsh and very often unpredictable nature of construction. Sadly in this case the combination of fumes becoming so toxic was not anticipated beforehand which led to these 2 men’s deaths. This shows just how vital it is for employers to provide workers with a safe system of work and to plan work beforehand to avoid incidents of this nature. It also highlights the importance of Material Safety Data Sheets and the need for all workers to be properly trained and supervised on all these aspects of construction work.

 

Attention Employers: Are you Exposing your Workers to Asbestos?

A Newburn based firm has learnt the hard way that failing to identify the hazard of asbestos to its employees carries severe consequences.

The company in Western Australia was handed a $5500 fine and ordered to pay costs after it failed to recognise the presence of potentially deadly asbestos at one of its Queens Park based worksites.

The charges, which the company pleaded guilty to included failing to identify the presence of asbestos (which should have been done before work commenced on the site) and a failure to post the appropriate warning signs at areas containing asbestos.

According to reports in the media and online, the company which conducts geochemical services failed to identify the presence of asbestos on its’ Queens Park site however the discovery was made during an inspection conducted in June 2010. During the inspection asbestos was found throughout different sections of the building and later an asbestos assessment commissioned by the company confirmed this to be true.

Asbestos is often discovered on work sites particularly when renovation work, excavation, revamps etc. are being carried out because it was commonly used in the past. Although its further use has been banned for decades, people on work sites throughout Oz are often exposed when the material containing asbestos becomes worn and releases these fibres into the air, to be inhaled by workers, potentially threatening their lives.

In light of this incident, the WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch issued a reminder to all employers to ensure that they identify the presence of asbestos in worksites prior to work commencing so that employees aren’t exposed. McCulloch was quoted as saying:

 asbestos“Unfortunately there is still a lot of asbestos in WA, and our workplace safety and health laws require that the presence and location of asbestos in workplaces is identified for everyone’s safety,” Mr McCulloch said.

“In this case, although the company did make some attempt to address the asbestos issue at its other workplaces, it did not ensure that information about asbestos at its workplaces was passed along to all relevant parties, including any outside contractors who worked at their sites.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/company-fined-failing-identify-asbestos-workplaces/

McCulloch warned other employers that although this type of prosecution was rare, and in fact this was the first one under this section of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, employers who were guilty of the same lack of action in asbestos identification and handling should expect similar consequences. All those responsible including the employer, principal contractor, property manager and/or building owner have to ensure they are doing their part to identify and deal with asbestos.

He went on to explain:

“Information about the presence and location of asbestos also needs to be made available to anyone who enters that workplace so the relevant precautions can be taken.

“Asbestos products do not pose a risk to health if they are left undisturbed in buildings, however there is a serious risk of exposure to asbestos fibres if asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, unless basic safety precautions are followed.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/company-fined-failing-identify-asbestos-workplaces/

This issue is particularly relevant to Australian workers because we suffer from some of the highest numbers of asbestos related disease in the world.