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Date PostedJune 17, 2014

White Card Update: Addressing the Main Causes of Accidents in the Construction Sector

One of the main purposes of the White Card course which is mandatory for all construction workers is to teach people entering the construction field about the common concerns and their duty of care when it comes to safety on construction sites.

The white card will provide the general safety knowledge necessary to avoid injury on a construction site but it is also useful for workers who have already completed their white card training to refresh their safety knowledge. Also this post will provide potential construction workers with some idea of the most common risks that face people working on construction sites so that they can make a better informed decision.

The most common accidents on construction sites include:

  1. Slips, trips and low falls
  2. Falls from heights
  3. Struck-by accidents
  4. Crushing Injuries
  5. Electrocution

Although these are the 5 most common causes of injury on construction sites they aren’t the only ones. White card training and additional safety training provided by the employer are necessary to ensure workers are well equipped to deal with the hazards of construction work.

  • Slips, trips and low falls

This is the most commonly occurring type of accident on a construction site. Although the injuries they cause are usually minor, they can also be life -threatening.

Too vast to cover in a single post this hazard is not unique to any one trade on the site, everyone on site may be exposed at some point to this hazard therefore it warrants particular attention from employers when safe work plans are being devised and taught to workers. Consider the risks associated with this hazard, they range from musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. strained ankle) to puncture wounds (from falling on sharp materials). And minor accidents aren’t the only risks, fatalities can also occur for example if a worker slips or trips onto a sharp object or breaks his or her neck.

  • Falls from height

All over the world falls from height are the most common cause of fatalities on construction sites and on work sites in general. Those involved in high rise construction in particular need to be especially cautious because there are number of work processes which can result in a potentially lethal fall from height. These include:

Inadequate, incorrectly erected scaffolding,

Absence of edge protection,

Unguarded openings in or on roofs of buildings,

Missing edge protection in roof work,

High risk demolition work

Incorrect and negligent use of ladders and hoists

  • Crush injuries

Crushing injuries can occur as a result of machinery, equipment or traffic on a construction site. They can also be a result of unsafe excavations often lead to fatal accidents or serious injuries.

People working in trenches can be crushed when the sides of the trench are inadequately supported, particularly during heavy rainfall or when construction vehicles are operated too close to trench edges.

Other structures such as walls that aren’t braced can also collapse because they aren’t properly supported.

  • Struck By Accidents

One of the worst risks that construction workers are exposed to is that of being struck by falling objects, materials or tools. Although PPE such as hard hats are mandatory on every construction site because of this risk, it is particularly concerning because it is out of a person’s control. For example a worker can be going about their business on the ground floor when another worker accidentally drops a tool or building materials from a higher level, hitting the worker on the lower level, possibly even fatally wounding that worker.

Issues such as lack of toe boards on scaffolding, lack of tool belts for workers, insufficient storage and stacking, and poor housekeeping can increase the risk of struck by accident.

Workers on site can also be struck by machinery and heavy equipment on site. Improper use of hoists, cranes and other heavy machinery can result in struck by accidents or crushing accidents. Proper traffic plans on site, training and ensuring that operators are high risk certified are vital to minimising struck by accidents involving construction heavy machinery and vehicles.

  • Electrocutions

Electrocutions are another common occurrence on construction sites and they are usually as a result of contact with underground or overhead live cables. Working with faulty equipment, power cords and cables that have exposed wires are also a risk to workers.


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.

Posted in General Construction, White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles, White Card Training Tagged with: , , , ,


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