Keeping Safe on Construction Sites

Construction sites are one of the highest risk industries for injury or death within Australia.

In NSW alone, over 30 000 workers were injured, of this 2000 were left permanently disabled and 33 were killed in just over a four-year span. Each of these incidents had the potential to be prevented.

Safety on construction sites, more often than not, takes a backseat to productivity, even if it puts workers directly in harm’s way. While it may seem that ignoring safety and the costs associated with it seems more productive, it simply isn’t true. There are many studies that indicate that a proactive safety culture can increase productivity by protecting worker health and business costs associated with workplace incidents and injuries

Laws, regulations and codes of practices are made available that outline what is required in providing a safe workplace, as well as explaining business and worker duties while on construction sites.

If you want to find out more about specific duties relating to construction work, make sure to look at Safe Work Australia's Construction Work Code of Practice.

Remember: No Work Health and Safety duties are transferable.

Everyone in construction work has health and safety duties when carrying out work; and often may have multiple or shared duties. This is often seen on construction sites with sub-contractors, as they are a PCBU and may also be deemed as a worker.

Common Risks found on Construction Sites

Due to range of work performed on construction sites, there are multiple hazards that workers may be subjected to. Such as:

· Unauthorised access to site

· Use of power tools

· Handling, storage, transport and use of hazardous chemicals

· Hazardous manual tasks

· Interaction with other trades

· Environment and Weather conditions

Further, the most common causes of serious injury or death on construction sites are:

· Falls from heights

· Contact with live services such as electricity

· Falling objects

· Contact with mobile plant

Additional care and controls should be put in place to limit both the likelihood and consequence of an incident occurring.

How do you manage the risk involved with construction work?

Safe Work Australia provides a Hierarchy of controls which assists businesses in controlling risk.

Controls such as elimination, substitution and isolation should always be considered before lower level controls.

For example, when working with mobile plant, the workplace may consider the following controls:

What now?

Regardless if you are a PCBU, principal contractor, worker or an apprentice, safety in the workplace should be a priority. Safe Work Australia and the equivalent state authority have countless resources that aid construction sites in complying with their WHS responsibilities.

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