WorkSafe Victoria has warned of the dangers associated with precast concrete panels, being increasingly used for various types of building projects around the state.
Anyone in the construction industry would have noticed that precast concrete panels are becoming more commonly used in construction but the risks associated with their use is often underestimated, a recipe for disaster.
WorkSafe Victoria are warning builders to be aware of the risks associated with the use of these panels and implement the necessary controls to ensure worker safety.
WorkSafe Victoria is currently on a 10-week campaign to visit construction sites across the state to alert builders of the dangers of these huge panel structures. The greatest risk associated with these panels is that they may fall and because of their size, the damage and injury they can cause is great. WorkSafe has warned that because concrete panels can be over 12 metres high and weigh more than 15 tonnes, they require significant temporary bracing to keep them stable and avoid possibly fatal accidents.
On its website WorkSafe warned:
WorkSafe construction manager Allan Beacom said that precast panels were used in many types of commercial and residential developments, such as shopping centres, warehouses, factories, and apartment complexes, but their size and weight made their use a high-risk operation.
“There have been several recent near misses from the collapse of precast panels,” Mr Beacom said. “Concrete panels can be over 12 metres high and weigh more than 15 tonnes, and they also require significant temporary bracing to keep them stable. So there is no margin for error when panels are used.”
Mr Beacom said the panels had to be erected and temporarily braced by licensed riggers and crane operators. Builders then had the responsibility to ensure the stability of the panels until they were locked into the building structure.
One of the issues that seem to be contributing to the problem is that many builders in the industry do not have sufficient experience working with these precast panels and workers aren’t trained to work with or around them safely. Mr Beacom warns that employers need to be aware of the risks and have safe working methods in place to keep workers out of danger.
It is vital that employers develop and implement specific processes and procedures if precast concrete panels are to be used on site to ensure the safety of everyone on site because if it should fall, it is very likely that someone could be seriously injured or killed.
The post on WorkSafeNews.com.au went on to explain,
Mr Beacom said there were no second chances when a concrete panel fell. “Its size and weight means it’s either going to be a near miss or a fatality should something go wrong,” he said.
“This campaign is aimed at ensuring anyone involved in this type of construction gets home safely at the end of their day.”