I was recently asked by someone a question which led me to question my own ideas about safety, the question, “what is safety”, the answer I found to be much more complex than I had originally thought.
The question got me thinking, not only about what the word “safety” means by what it implies to me to personally in the context of the work environment.
For me safety as it relates to the construction environment is a complex matter which involves all departments, tradespeople and workers as well as all entities involved in the construction project, from client to employer, principal contractor to casual labourer.
Helen Keller once said: “Safety is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
Many people think safety and danger go hand in hand, you cant have one without some form of the other, so using this logic naturally a construction site full of potential danger will require a level of safety to overcome these dangers. Being or “feeling” safe is the condition of being protected from this danger, risk or injury. Obviously where there is danger (on a construction site this comes in the form of hazards), safety must arise to bring about this “condition of protection from danger”.
But implementing this “protection” or “safety” is a process which requires a systematic approach taking into consideration all the factors on the construction site.
While most of the responsibility for safety is held by the employer, the construction worker, regardless of position or trade must also ensure that they do their part towards safety on site. Firstly each worker must complete the construction induction training, commonly referred to as The White Card.
According to Workplace Health and Safety Legislation you must be in possession of your white card before beginning any work on a construction site in Oz, no matter your trade.
The White Card Course is mandatory for anyone entering into a career or even just a temporary job on a construction site. This training does not involve costly and time consuming training in a classroom type environment, most people just complete the White Card Course online and receive their White Card in the mail.
The course is nationally recognised, so safety across all states is unified and improved. Workers are also able to work across borders and in any state they choose in Oz.
While we are all born with some sense of self preservation we cannot simply rely on our common sense to remain safe on a construction site. There are certain hazards that we may not be familiar with and there are tried and tested methods of overcoming these hazards – that is what the White Card Course teaches, how to work safely in the construction environment.