Safety In The Construction Industry
October is National Safe Work month. Here at Epic Projects, we have taken the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, and what it means to protect workers across all facets of the industry. A worker’s general health and wellbeing are strongly influenced by their safety at work, both physically and mentally. With the construction industry being one of the highest risk industries in Australia, it is therefore detrimental to constantly revise safety policies and protocols to prevent workplace injury and death.
Nationally, 183 people were fatally injured at work in 2019, 14 occurring in South Australia. The most common fatalities are can be grouped into fatal four areas: falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught in between two objects. The construction industries were found to have high numbers and rates of injury and/or fatalities or were by their nature hazardous.
The most common causes of serious injury or death on construction sites are:
- falls from heights
- contact with electricity
- being hit by falling objects
- moving plant
- asbestos exposure
- silica exposure
- manual handling
- high work stress
COVID-19 has also profoundly affected the construction industry, presenting new challenges for the management of workplace health and safety. The increase in construction activity as a result of Government stimulus such as the HomeBuilders scheme and fast-tracked infrastructure packages may cause pressure or deficits in safety standards due to tight timeframes and contractual pressures. Further, pressures on individual workers such as financial stability and home life during these uncertain times may impact work performance and increase the risk of injury or fatality.
These increased pressures mean that the management of workplace health and safety is ever important. Workplace stresses can become overwhelming and impact on the mental health of a worker. Research suggests that around 1 in 5 Australian workers are experiencing a mental health condition. It is therefore essential that employers are providing adequate resources, support, relationship management and a safe physical environment.
So what are the basics of good work safety?
- eliminate or minimise hazards and risks before they are introduced into the workplace.
- Work, work processes and systems of work are designed and managed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks.
- Health and safety is given priority in all work processes and decisions.
- Good leadership and training for decisions and educating
Building and construction workers, as part of occupational health and safety, are required to undertake safety training. To prevent workplace injury or fatality, employers should ensure their workers are provided this training, and are complying to standard work code practices and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) requirements.
What is a Safe Work Method Statement?
Prepared by the employer, principal contractor or site supervisor, a Safe Work Method Statement is used to provide guidelines for construction site safety. In the document, the employer outlines which activities are classified as high risk and details all the possible hazards and risks that the worker will encounter daily, as well as how to appropriately control and manage them. The outline should be clear and precise, so as to readily prepare the worker.
What Safety Means to Us
Epic Projects and Consulting take Occupational Health and Safety very seriously. We are strong advocates for workplace safety and promote good practices on-site and to the various contractors we work with. As National Safe Work month draws to a close, we encourage our colleagues in the industry to review, repolish, adapt, and strengthen their safety procedures and protocols to ensure optimal safety in the workplace.
References: TNS (2014). State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. Melbourne: Beyond Blue Australia, L., 2020. 11 Safety Measures Every Construction Site Should Have In Place. Latham-australia.com. Available at: <https://www.latham-australia.com/blog/safety-measures-construction-site> Builders Academy. 2020. 5 Things You Need To Know About Construction Site Safety. Available at: <https://buildersacademy.com.au/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-construction-site-safety/> Headsup.org.au. 2020. What Is A Healthy Workplace. Available at: <https://www.headsup.org.au/healthy-workplaces/what-is-a-mentally-workplace> SafeWork NSW. 2020. Safety In Construction. Available at: <https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/advice-and-resources/campaigns/Safe-Work-Month/safety-in-construction>