National Safe Work Month may be over but that doesn’t mean we go back to old ways of flouting safety. Especially as the year draws to a close, it is important that safety remains at the top of the list of priorities on high risk work sites in the construction industry.
Whether you’re an experienced construction worker, just starting out or in management, you are at risk just by setting foot onto a construction site because you are at the mercy of your co-workers.
There are normally so many trades people working together at any time on a construction site, usually the site is confined and the actions of one person have implications for everyone around them. It’s important to co-ordinate tasks as much as possible but even then risks still exist. That is why everyone on site needs to be on the same page about safety.
First we need to identify the risks and come up a strategy to manage them – as a priority we should attempt to eliminate hazards altogether but this isn’t always possible.Control measures can ensure that risks are minimised if elimination of the hazard are not possible.
It’s up to site controllers to investigate potential hazards on the construction site before work can proceed but workers themselves should also evaluate their surroundings before proceeding with work and perhaps placing themselves in harm’s way.
Some of the dangers to look out for include unstable grounds, power lines and hazardous materials. It’s important to keep in mind that each site will vary and the hazards work presents will also differ from site to site.
Another important part of safety in the trade fields is Personal Protective Equipment. Although it is low down on the hierarchy of controls, when other controls aren’t enforceable, an item of PPE could be lifesaving.
Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while at a construction site whether you are working or overseeing the work. Examples of PPE include hard hats, safety glasses, dust masks, gloves and the proper clothing like thick-soled construction boots.
Employees in the construction industry have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including use of PPE.
Workers that refuse to cooperate with these safety policies may face disciplinary action or prosecution. Employers have a responsibility to pay for and provide PPE and employees must utilise it as required.
Employers and employees must work together to enhance site safety, of which training plays a crucial role. Workers need to be in possession of a White Card to prove that they have completed construction induction training. It’s up to employers to ensure all workers have this minimum accreditation and are provided with additional site and task specific safety training.