The consequences of failing to provide workers with a safe work environment have been highlighted by a ruling handed down to a construction company by the courts recently. The company received a $55,000 fine after a worker was killed on a work site in August 2012.
Although all employers regardless of industry have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe work environment, in the construction industry it is a particularly important issue because the work environment is naturally high risk. It requires care in order to identify hazards associated with the work site, assess the risks and implement the necessary controls to keep workers safe.
Unfortunately because of the high number of hazards that are usually associated with construction work, it can be easy for those responsible for the work site to fail to identify hazards or implement the necessary controls, thereby failing to provide workers with a safe work environment and/or safe system of work.
The worker died in the 2012 accident after falling from a roof. The following excerpt from an article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains more about the incident,
The man died from injuries sustained in a fall as he was reattaching his safety harness to anchor points along a gutter.
The magistrate noted that although the company had taken measures to enhance the safety of workers before the incident, they were under pressure to have the job completed fast.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers and other people who might be affected by work carried out by their business.
The writer of the post on SafetyCulture.com.au went on to describe another similar incident which resulted in prosecution of a Western Australian Mine,
Last week, a company was charged by the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) under the Mines and Safety Inspection Act for failing to provide a safe working environment following the death of a mine worker in August 2011.
Providing employees with a safe work environment and safe system of work is part of an employer’s duty of care but employees also have a duty of care to ensure that they work in a way that does not endanger their own health and safety or that of a co-worker/s.
Unfortunately one of the reasons that employers get away with failing to fulfil their health and safety requirements is because some workers aren’t aware of their rights when it comes to OHS. One of the ways the government aims to combat this lack of knowledge in the construction industry, identified as one of the most high risk in Oz, is by mandating general construction safety training.
General safety training must be completed by everyone who works on a construction site in Oz. Commonly referred to as White Card training (because of the little credit card sized accreditation gained on completion of the course) the course enables those who complete it successfully to seek employment in any type of construction from mining construction to road construction.