The latest Safe Work Australian Notifiable Fatalities Monthly report has been released for December 2013 and according to it, there were 24 work related notifiable fatalities reported during this time.
Nineteen male workers as well as 1 female worker were killed and 4 innocent bystanders also lost their lives.
According to the report 11 deaths involved a vehicle crash on a public road and 4 were as a result of air crashes. A further 2 were caused by the victims being hit by moving objects and one was as a result of a fall from a height. One person was killed when hit/crushed by a moving object.
The report reveals that the most number of deaths were linked to the transport, postal and warehousing industries which accounted for 15 deaths and mining was also a major contributor, causing 4 deaths.
The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries also accounted for 3 fatalities each with the manufacturing and retail industry accounting for one.
The following table shows which states were the most high risk in terms of workplace fatalities, with Queensland leading for overall fatalities followed by NSW,
Over the year (2013) 19 people lost their lives in the construction industry – one being a bystander not involved in construction work. Although this is an improvement from last year, it is still 19 fatalities too high.
In 2012 the number of people who lost their lives in the construction sector were 28. Although we experienced a slight drop in fatalities in 2013 as compared to the previous year, in 2011 there were just 14 deaths which indicates that we still have a long way to go in reducing fatalities in the construction sector.
According to the Notifiable Fatalities Report, the construction industry is responsible for the third highest number of fatalities, exceeded only by agriculture with 46 deaths and the transport industry with 82 fatalities.
Electrical hazards, slips trips and falls as well as hit by/crushed by incidents are still the leading cause of injury and fatalities on construction sites and it is important that we examine the reasons why these hazards are contributing to so many injuries and fatalities on building sites.
As the saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed however when it comes to electrical hazards, falls and heavy machinery and equipment on construction sites this doesn’t seem to be the case because despite being aware of the risks, we are still exercising complacency on site. That is one of the reasons why regular review of safety plans and continuous training and communication with (and among) employees is of the utmost importance.
It is not enough to simply ensure workers have undergone General Construction Safety training (White Card training), they need to be continuously addressed regarding site safety. Often when we work for several weeks, months or even years without any serious incidents taking place, we tend to become “soft” about safety and allow an atitude of complacency to set in, sometimes thinking we are invincible, too experienced or that incidents only happen to other people. This type of attitute is to blame for most of the accidents that take place on construction sites because despite having received the necessary training, many Aussie workers are still falling victim to senseless workplace injuries.
Importance of Ongoing Training
Many employers recognise the importance of ongoing training for professional development but fail to recognise the importance of ongoing safety training which is equally if not more important.
New and better safety techniques, equipment, plans etc are being developed all the time and if a worker hasn’t received safety training in the last 20 years, the chances are their knowledge is going to be outdated and possibly place them (and others) at risk.
Also consider that workers who have received their White Card training a very long time ago may have forgotten a lot of the information taught and therefore may need a refresher course to ensure they are aware of safety now!
As new hazards arise, which often is the case as the project develops and progresses, workers must be made aware in order to remain safe – this is why continuous communication is of utmost importance.
Importance of Communication
Beside the need for continuous training, continuous communication with employees is necessary including verbal and written communication in a language that workers understand.
A good habit to get workers into is talking about safety and holding a daily or weekly safety meeting with all workers to discuss issues and solutions.
Communication with employees in both directions (from employer to employee and vice versa) is crucial to ensuring everyone on site is on par when it comes to safety because as we already know the actions of one can influence the entire site.