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Date PostedJuly 10, 2012

White Card Online News Update: Safeguarding Construction Sites Against Hazards

A recent report by Safe Work Australia revealed that the number of deaths that occur at work have declined in the year ending 2011. Interestingly the largest number of deaths occurred due to incidents involving falling objects. Here we discuss the major hazards involved in construction work that are often overlooked and how they can be successfully overcome.

Power Tools

A number of accidents occur each year in which workers are maimed or severely injured sometimes fatally by power tools. Although they are invaluable in construction they can be extremely dangerous if not used with the proper precautions. Power saws, grinders and other power tools must have proper guards in place at all times. Cords and hoses must be placed so as not to create a tripping hazard or be subjected to damage from equipment or materials. Tools must be put away into tool boxes or someplace safe where they will not present a tripping hazard or fall onto someone and injure them while not in use. Also make sure that power tools are repaired whenever necessary by a licenced electrician only. Power tools should be tested regularly and if damaged reported immediately.

Compressed Air

Compressed air is used in many site operations, tools and equipment for power or cleaning down. Compressed air can be dangerous and can also injure or kill. It has the potential to blast slivers of wood, steel and concrete into eyes, through skin and deep into flesh. It can also peel skin off . It can burst lungs. It can even enter the blood stream and stop a person’s heart. It should be treated with great caution. Inspect airlines and tools before use, fasten all connections securely. Do not attempt to turn the air on yourself to blow dust from clothing or skin as this may result in death.


Inspect ladders before use for any damage. Wooden ladders should not be painted as cracks and damage may not be seen. If a ladder is damaged it should not be used. Ladders are to be secured at the top and bottom and set at the correct angle of 1 in 4 before climbing. When climbing tools should not be carried in your hands both hands should be on the ladder. Never use a metal ladder adjacent to suspended electrical conductors unless they have been isolated. Clean mud and grease off footwear before using ladders otherwise this will create a slipping hazard. Face the ladder when climbing and use both hands to hang on.

Chemicals And Fibre-Based Products

It is important that all chemicals and fibre-based substances introduced to site must not be used unless accompanied by a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The responsible foreman will ensure that the use of these products will not be harmful to the workers handling them and that the correct procedures for use and the correct type of protective equipment is worn.


Excavations of all types require barricading and hand railing of substantial materials so as to prevent persons from failing into them. Excavations or trenches exceeding 1.5 metres should have shoring to walls and faces or as stipulated by regulations. Ladder access must be provided to and from all excavations and trenches and Guard rails must be provided.

Guard Rails

All openings in the ground and all penetrations in floors must be fitted with guard rails or handrails. Missing rails must be reported immediately and if removed for work purposes, they must be replaced before leaving the area. Neglecting to do so may result in injury.

Even with great caution exercised accidents still occur. It is important the workers are trained before entering the construction site on specific procedures for that site.

Accident Reporting

All accidents need to be reported so that they may be investigated and analysed so that they do not occur again. It is also important to warn other workers of what to be aware of and to warn employers on what needs to be done in terms of safety and future prevention. If there is an accident, please make sure it is reported, no matter how small.

Injury Reporting

All injuries must be reported to the first-aid attendant/foreman for treatment and recording. The first-aid attendant will carry out treatment initially and recommend follow-up treatment. It is also important for compensation claims that the injury be recorded.

Posted by Steven Asnicar


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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