While we have always been aware that construction is a high risk industry, responsible for hundreds of injuries in Oz every year, it has now been made official by Safe Work Australia.
The construction industry is officially the fifth most dangerous industry in the nation having recorded fewer injuries than the agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, postal and warehousing industries alone.
Having cracked the top five list the construction industry also records some of the highest workers compensation claims. Last year it had the fifth highest number of fatalities.
A major killer in this industry over the past year in particular is falls from heights, followed closely by accidents involving construction vehicles and electrocution incidents.
Due to the revelation that work from heights, construction vehicles and electrical hazards are still the biggest killers on construction sites, I have decided to revisit these 3 pertinent issues which seem to be claiming so many construction workers lives.
- Work from Heights Hazards:
Already this year we have witnessed at least a dozen deaths from falls from heights and even internationally this is the number one cause of workplace fatalities.
Unfortunately despite how common this type of incident is on construction sites and work sites in general, many workers and employers still fail to recognise the importance of guarding against falls.
Even before work begins safety hazards should be identified, including work from height hazards. The most obvious hazards include work from scaffolding, roofing, elevated work platforms and incomplete structures.
- Construction Vehicles:
Another common hazard associated with construction is presented by construction vehicles and other heavy machinery.
Construction vehicles are invaluable to the construction process but if the risks associated with them aren’t identified and dealt with, they can cause more chaos and injuries.
A good site traffic plan should be developed and implemented in order to avoid accidents involving construction vehicles colliding with each other, with pedestrians and even with structures under construction.
The good news about this hazard is that most accidents are completely avoidable with the necessary planning, training and caution.
- Electrical Hazards:
There are multiple electrical hazards that are present on construction sites. One of the most common that often results in construction worker fatalities is contact with energised power lines. Both overhead and underground power lines present a hazard to construction and therefore need to be identified beforehand and addressed to avoid harm to workers.
Overhead as well as buried power lines on construction sites are particularly dangerous because an extremely high voltage runs through them. Burns and even death can result and when combined with tools and equipment coming into contact with power lines, the risk is increased.
Ultimately employers do hold most of the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace but employees also have a role to play. Employees have a duty of care to ensure that they work in a way that does not endanger their health and safety or that of their co-workers. They also have a responsibility to adhere to their safety training, training provided by the employer and general construction induction training known as The White Card.