Oz faces Skills Shortage Crisis according to MBA

More members of the construction industry in Oz have spoken out about the looming skills shortage in the industry and the implications for the future of the industry.

The Master Builders Association recently posted an article on their website which detailed new information from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showing that the total number of apprentices in training has dropped dramatically.

According to statistics the number of apprentices in training within the industry fell from 56,000 as at June 2013, to 43,100 in June 2014. This was a 23 per cent decline from 2010’s figures.

Master Builders Australia’s chief executive officer, Wilhelm Harnisch said that judging by the research, the number of apprentices completing their apprenticeships was much less than those needed to replace retiring construction workers.

According to Harnisch completion rates of between 11,100 and 14,500 annually were less than one third of the number of workers retiring each year which is roughly 30,000. He went on to explain what this meant for the industry,

download“This is a dramatic drop for an industry that will be one of the growth sectors in the economy and with an annual exit rate of 30,000 construction workers each year due to retirement,” Harnisch said, referring to the aforementioned fall in apprentice numbers in the system and adding that the sector will become increasingly reliant upon foreign labour if insufficient numbers of new trainees come though.

Source: http://www.mba.org.au/media_room/mbanews/article/?id=462

Harnisch concluded with a warning that we need to see huge improvement in apprenticeship starts if we are to avoid losing billions of dollars of investment in the construction industry. He explained:

“Unless there is a dramatic increase in the number of people in skills training, then the building and construction industry is heading for a skills crisis putting billions of dollars of investment at risk.”

Source: http://www.mba.org.au/media_room/mbanews/article/?id=462

Encouraging New Workers to Consider Construction

It is important that not only are people encouraged to return to construction, now that activity levels have risen once again but it is also important that young people are encouraged to enter the industry as apprentices so that they can be trained on a construction skill.

In particular labourers, tilers, plumbers, electricians and roofers are going to be in high demand if more apprentices aren’t trained in these trades.

In the recent past many were put off from the construction sector because of a lack of job opportunities and the perceived risk. Now it is important that young people are encouraged and made aware of the improvements in the industry in terms of safety and opportunities.

One of the ways that people can be reassured about the industry’s commitment to health and safety, reviewing safety statistics which show obvious declines in injury and fatality rates. Much of the improvements in health and safety can be attributed to the commitment of workers, employers, health and safety professionals as well as government.

The White Card training course is undoubtedly one of the things that has contributed to a safer and more productive industry and has been mandated by the federal government for everyone in the construction industry.



Bikies Barred from Construction Sites in Second Half of the Year

The Newman state government has recently announced that new licensing restrictions will come into effect this year aimed at stopping the scourge of bikie gangs on construction sites in Queensland.

The harsh new laws to halt the spread of bikie gangs in the state will see members of these gangs banned from working on construction sites. The laws will come into effect in the second half of the year, despite the extension of an ongoing trade union inquiry.

The state government confirmed that new licensing restrictions, scheduled to come into effect on July 2, 2015 will stop the members and associates of bikie gang members from engaging in work on construction sites in Queensland.

The law which would ban bikies in the building industry was originally planned to come into effect at the start of July 2014 but was delayed because it would require members of the industry including all trades people such as electricians, plumbers, builders, roofers etc. to cut all connections with members of bikie gangs or risk being de-registered.

Two weeks before the law was supposed to come into effect last year, the government announced that it would be rescheduled. The ban was delayed for a year in order for the Federal Government to conduct a trade union inquiry.

According to an article on Sourceable.net.au the inquiry was extended by another year in order to carry out more investigations. The post explains that according to the office of Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie, there are no plans to defer the licensing restrictions as a result.

The following excerpt from the Sourceable.net article explains,

The Newman government has implemented harsh new laws directed against Queensland’s bikie gangs over the past year, in direct response to a violent brawl between the Bandidos and the Finks that took place in Broadbeach toward the end of 2013.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/bikies-barred-construction/#sthash.1GGm0tVB.dpuf

The laws are significant because the state government believes that around 300 of an estimated 1500 outlaw bikies in Queensland have withdrawn from their former gangs as a result of the strict new measures.

Motorcycle gangs as well as civil rights activists have complained that some of the measures are excessive, despite the crackdown have already proven to curb the activities on outlaw gangs on construction sites. The unions have also come out against the laws as the article went on to detail:

bikiesUnions have also criticised changes to licensing requirements, with John Battams, president of the Queensland Council of Unions, calling the them “too broad a brush” for dealing with the problem of bikie gangs.

The Electrical Trades Union has been particularly critical of the slated licensing changes, claiming that they would imperil the employment prospects of innocent workers without criminal backgrounds.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/bikies-barred-construction/#sthash.1GGm0tVB.dpuf

The Electrical Trade Union state secretary Peter Simpson said that at least 50 members of the union could be unfairly affected by the new licensing requirements. He was quoted as saying:

 “It’s manifestly unfair to pick on people because of who they hang around with,” said Simpson.

See more at: http://sourceable.net/bikies-barred-construction/#sthash.1GGm0tVB.dpuf



Staying Abreast with PPE Advancements

According to a report on construction website www.constructionenquirer.com a new advancement in the world of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been made which may be of benefit to those in the construction industry.

The development has been described as the world’s lightest site safety glasses and has been developed and recently launched by JSP.

PPE are particularly important on worksites like construction sites because of the variety of hazards that are present and the risk they pose to workers, which if not removed, controlled by some other means or substituted with a less risky method of work, need to be minimised. One of the ways the risks associated with these hazards are minimised is using PPE.

Safety glasses are one of the ways that risks to worker’s eyes can be minimised and the new light weight glasses are useful because they give workers less of an excuse not to wear them. Many workers fail to utilise PPE because they find it uncomfortable or a hindrance to work, but the more comfortable and easy to use equipment is made, the more likely workers are to make use of them.

The following excerpt from the article on ConstructionEnquirer.com explains more about the development:

STEALTH-16g-1-190x127The new Stealth spectacles weigh just 16g and JSP said they are so light “that most workers will not even know they are wearing them.”

The Stealth glasses comply with all safety standards.

JSP said: “Many companies’ mandatory eye protection policies state that employees must wear their safety eyewear at all times during the working day.

“In these cases, the lighter the eyewear, the more it ensures day-long comfort and encourages compliance.

“Super-light eyewear such as the Stealth 16g gives substantial benefit to workers in industries such as construction.”

Source: http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2014/09/18/jsp-launches-worlds-lightest-site-safety-glasses/

Although personal protective equipment is the last line of defence against construction hazards, they are still compulsory and can mean the difference between a minor injury and a fatality. In the case of safety glasses they can save a worker’s eyesight or their entire eye in some instances which threaten it such as work with blow torches or other tools.

How white card can help

Training is one of the most vital steps in a site’s safety plan. Ensuring that workers have received all the necessary training is an important part of maintaining a safe site, that includes site specific and white card training.

When it comes to PPE, very often they prove useless if utilised incorrectly which is why training is so important. Workers should not just be provided with PPE and left without training on how to correctly use them.

White Card training provides workers with basic construction safety training which teaches them about the general hazards associated with construction work. It is a mandatory for all workers, in addition to any other site specific and task specific training that the employee may undergo. The white card course also teaches them their responsibilities such as their duty of care to utilise PPE as and when instructed to do so by their employer. It also teaches workers about what the duties of the employer are, including the provision of properly working, adequate PPE for the job as well as PPE training.


Survey Shows Construction Zone Driving Accidents Growing in USA

A recent survey published by Associated General Contractors of America highlighted that road construction zone driving accidents were at an all-time high in the United States. In Oz we may not have as high accident rate as they do in the United States, but we can also learn a lesson of caution from what is going on in that country.

The revelation that road construction accidents was on the up in the States was highlighted by an accident that took place in Hillsboro, North Dakota involving a Minneapolis man who was killed in a rollover accident in a construction zone one evening recently. According to eye witness reports the driver was driving recklessly at the time and attempted to overtake a tractor trailer in the construction zone on the shoulder of the road when he lost control. The following report on the accident appeared on www.thedickinsonpress.com

Witnesses reported seeing the driver passing on the shoulder at high speeds when he lost control while passing a tractor-trailer.

North Dakota State Highway Patrol Sgt. Greg Smith said the crash happened about 7:42 p.m. Monday about 4 miles north of Hillsboro. Hillsboro is about 40 miles north of Fargo.

Smith said the victim was headed south in his black 2007 Chevrolet HHR in a section of I-29 that had been restricted to one lane because of construction.

After losing control, the car rolled several times. The driver was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

Source: http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/content/minnesotan-dies-construction-zone-accident-i-29-0

This is the worst type of accident which can occur due to reckless driving around road construction zones because it resulted in a fatality.

According to the survey published earlier this month American drivers are failing to take appropriate caution when approaching road construction zones. The survey took into consideration the responses of over 400 contractors who engage in road construction across The United States.

The survey surprisingly revealed that 45 per cent of the contractors had experienced at least one crash involving a motor vehicle within a work zone in which they operated. Sixty-nine per cent of these experienced multiple crashes and more than a quarter said five or more crashes occurred.

The survey also revealed that vehicle drivers and occupants were more likely to be killed or injured than construction workers in these accidents, so educating the public is also an important consideration.

Contractors also claimed that accidents caused by drivers around work zones contributed to delays due to shutdowns in the work site. Almost half of these delays lasted at least 2 days or more.

The implementation of stricter laws and penalties for non-compliance as well as an increase in the use of concrete barriers has been suggested by contractors involved in the survey. They also suggested more frequent training as a solution.

Tom Case, chair of ACG’s national highway and transportation division and senior vice president of Watsonville, California based Granite Construction cited the importance of drivers slowing down. He was quoted by an article on Sourceable.net:

 “There is little margin for error when you work within a few inches of thousands of fast-moving vehicles,” he said. “As the data makes clear, not enough drivers are slowing down and staying alert near work sites.”

“Ensuring proper work zone safety starts and ends with cautious drivers.”

See more at: http://sourceable.net/american-drivers-crash-into-construction-zones/#sthash.4ZgDm62I.dpuf



Muscles and Tendons Most Commonly Injured during Workplace Accidents

It may come as a surprise but according to an investigation recently conducted, muscles and tendons are the most frequently injured part of the body.

The investigation conducted by the APN shows that muscles and tendons are the most frequent areas for workplace injuries in the south-west Queensland.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sprains and strains induced by lifting, pushing, pulling and bending are the most common injuries sustained at work and especially so in industries were manual labour is involved such as the construction industry.

Why is this issue important? Because in last year there were 169 people killed on the job and thousands more injured. Although the overall number of workplace injuries increased, the numbers of muscle and tendon injuries were the highest compared to other injuries.

The following is an excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au that explains further:

Around 169 people in Australia have been killed while on their job this year while 167 died in 2013. In the 2012-2013 financial year, the State Government reported about 8,030 injuries in south-west Queensland, which includes Ipswich, Toowomba and Warwick.

Overall, the figures went down 1,500 on the previous 12 months but muscle and tendon injuries showed 2,020 incidents which make it the most common areas for workplace injuries. Also showing an alarming rate are wounds, amputations and organ damage with 1,910 cases being reported. Joint and ligament, and soft tissue trauma were also included on the most common workplace injuries.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also reported that sprains and strains brought about by lifting, pushing, pulling and bending are the most common hurts.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/muscle-tendon-trauma-tops-workplace-injuries/#.VLAciiuUeJg

Muscle and Tendon Injuries in Construction

An overwhelming number of injuries in the construction workplace are sprains and strains of the muscles. In addition to this, construction work can also cause injuries to the joints, bones, and nerves. These injuries often occur from constant wear and tear on the body particularly to those workers involved in manual handling. Together these injuries are called musculoskeletal disorders and are a common yet often ignored source of pain to workers.

Generally, musculoskeletal disorders in construction workers affect the hand and wrist, the shoulders, neck and upper back, the low back, and the hips and knees. The back is usually were most workers complain of pain and this is also the area that hinders them from undertaking their regular tasks on the work site.

There are a number of common risk factors associated with injuries to the back. They include:

  • Lifting
  • Pushing, pulling, tugging
  • Twisting, reaching, sideways bending, unequal lifting
  • Working in a single position
  • Whole body vibration

Employers should identify these risks beforehand and address them so that workers aren’t exposed.

Manual handling is one of the topics covered in brief by the general construction induction training course- The White Card course, together with other topics relevant to work in the construction environment.

It is every construction employers’ responsibility to ensure their workers are in possession of a White Card before beginning work on the site. They must also provide workers with any additional relevant training. Workers have a responsibility to complete the White Card course before beginning work on any construction site in Oz, to ensure they don’t suffer sprains, strains and other unnecessary injuries induced by construction work.


Melbourne Apartment Construction Booming

According to Sourceable.net, a leading construction industry website, Melbourne is going through a boom in the apartment construction sector, based on the number of building approvals.

The nationwide boom in the housing construction sector doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon and in Melbourne apartment starts in particular are on the rise. This is good news for builders, developers as well as anyone employed by the construction sector because it means sustained work for the next few years or as long as the boom holds out.

However people already engaged in construction work aren’t the only ones to benefit from the upturn in activity. Even those people still grappling with the idea of what career to embark on or whether or not to enter the construction should take this as an encouraging sign. Employment figures in the industry are up and skilled workers in this sector are able to be more choosy about what they want and demand from their employers.

According to the article on Sourceable.net, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of new houses and apartments approved for construction, rose by 7.5 per cent to come in at 18,245 – a record high figure.

The following excerpt from the article explains that Victoria is the leader when it comes to apartment construction starts,

Victoria led the way as a 38 percent surge in multi-residential approvals from an already high base saw overall approval numbers (seasonally adjusted) jump by almost 20 percent in that state.

Having defied expectations of a pull-back in activity amid significant volumes of new stock hitting the market following high levels of building activity in recent years, the state’s capital of Melbourne is experiencing a boom in apartment building that shows no sign of abating.

Last month, for instance, Central Equity appointed Brookfield Multiplex to build its $135 million Australis Melbourne Apartments tower including 46 storeys of one, two and three bedrooms encased by a glass façade on Little Lonsdale Street.

– See more at: http://sourceable.net

Experts predict that strong levels of construction activity will last for at least several years, which is further good news for members of the industry.

Shane Garret, Housing Industry Association Senior Economist said of the sustained growth,

 “Residential construction was the economy’s good news story during 2014, and today’s figures indicate that we can look forward to another positive year for the industry,” Garrett said.

“With weaknesses in several areas of the Australian economy, new home building has come to life at an opportune time.”

 “I think there are a few different things going on,” he said. “The interest rate situation is one of them, but you can’t ignore the fact that prices in Victoria and Melbourne in particular have been rising so strongly in the past year and a half. That’s definitely encouraging people to develop land and build more units.”

See more at: http://sourceable.net

If the growth in the industry has enticed you or someone you know to seek work in this industry, you need to first become eligible by completing the mandatory safety training. The White Card course which can be completed online, is a pass onto a construction site in Oz, without which workers aren’t only going into a high risk environment uneducated, but also breaking the law by doing so. The White Card is federally mandated by the Australian government.


Electric Shock Sends Crane Operator to Hospital

An accident that happened on a rural Queensland property recently is an example of the electrical hazards associated with crane operation and heavy machinery operation in general. A crane operator was hospitalised after the crane he was in control of came into contact with powerlines causing him to suffer an electric shock.

Reports said that emergency crews were called to the property north of Pratten last week where the man had been electrocuted. The man was apparently using a crane mounted on a truck when the machinery clipped powerlines.

Powerlines present a risk to operators that should be identified and addressed in advance, so that incidents like this do not occur. An article on SafetyCulture.com.au also highlighted another similar incident during which a council worker was hospitalised after sustaining an electric shock due to contact with fallen powerlines. The article explained:

100x100xcrane.jpg.pagespeed.ic.i_NsgfgEqMEarly last month, a council employee in NSW was hospitalised after suffering an electric shock when he came into contact with fallen powerlines near a sewerage treatment plant. The man was battling a grass fire when the incident occurred.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/01/crane-operator-hospitalised-electric-shock/#.VLAanSuUeJg

One of the biggest mistakes workers can make is assuming that power lines aren’t live because this is how most accidents involving power lines occur. If unsure, always assume power lines are energized.

Operators of cranes, front loaders, lorry-mounted cranes/loaders, excavators, tipping trailers, bale trailers and tipper trucks need to be most cautious because they are the ones most likely to be at risk from live overhead power lines.

Operators of vehicles that could possibly touch over-head power lines should have a properly planned route prior to operation. This route should be drawn up to avoid over-head power lines. This is an important aspect of site safety, considering how serious the risks are. The article on SafetyCulture.com went on to discuss more about electrical incidents in WA.

According to a 2010-11 Western Australia’s electrical incident safety report, from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2011, there were 9,977 reported electrical shocks in Western Australia. Approximately 52 per cent were recorded as occurring in regional and rural areas, with the Perth metropolitan area accounting for the balance. The reason for a greater number of shocks reported in regional and rural areas may be due to the presence of mining companies, which must comply with reporting requirements for electrical shocks.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/01/crane-operator-hospitalised-electric-shock/#.VLAanSuUeJg

Every employer needs to ensure that workers are properly educated about all the hazards on the worksite as well as safe working procedures. That includes ensuring all workers have received general construction induction training/The White Card as well as more specific site safety training.

Employers need to ensure that they are providing workers with a safe work environment and a safe system of work. This involves addressing the dangers work on the site may present.

A basic assessment process should go as follows:

  • Identify and locate the hazards associated with the work, such as overhead powerlines.
  • Assess the risks associated with work near them
  • Attempt to eliminate the hazards by altering the work process.
  • Minimise the risks by implementing the appropriate control measures
  • Ensure workers are trained on these control measures
  • Supervise workers to ensure that they are keeping a safe distance for power lines and are adhering to all other controls.



Royal Commission says CFMEU Should Face Criminal Charges

According to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, criminal charges should be brought against the CFMEU, the nation’s latest construction union.

Recently tabled into Federal Parliament, the Royal Commission’s interim report recommended the union face criminal charges. In the 1566 page report, the commission describes a “pervasive and unhealthy” culture that prevails in the CFMEU.

The commission recommended that the Director of Public Prosecution bring criminal charges against the union for its behaviour, including what it calls intimidation and coercion.

It also recommended that the Queensland CFMEU state secretary face charges for breaches of the Corporations Act. The commission’s report also recommended prosecution be considered against the Victorian CFMEU secretary and assistant secretary for claims of blackmail made against him.

In an article on Sourceable.net you read some of the recommendations made by the commission in its interim report,

legal “The evidence in relation to the CFMEU case studies indicates that a number of CFMEU officials seek to conduct their affairs with a deliberate disregard for the rule of law,” the report says.

 “That evidence is suggestive of the existence of a pervasive and unhealthy culture within the CFMEU, under which:

(a) the law is to be deliberately evaded, or crashed through as an irrelevance, where it stands in the way of achieving the objectives of particular officials;

(b) officials prefer to lie rather than reveal the truth and betray the union;

(c) the reputations of those who speak out about union wrongdoing become the subject of baseless slurs and vilification.”

See more at: http://sourceable.net/cfmeu-should-face-criminal-charges-royal-commission/#sthash.LDaBgnVa.dpuf

The report also goes on to mention a number of cases in which the union’s representatives engaged in alleged illegal behaviour such as the banning of Boral from CFMEU controlled sites in Melbourne in what was described in an ongoing war with the construction giant Grocon. The union’s issues with Boral stemmed from its refusal to cease supplying cement to construction company Grocon.

In the post on Sourceable.net another case covered by the Royal Commission was also mentioned:

In another case, it found the union engaged in a deliberate and protracted campaign against crane operator Smithbridge Group by applying pressure on its customers to remove the group’s cranes from their sites unless the group signed the union’s form of enterprise agreement and arranged for all of its employees to become union members.

– See more at: http://sourceable.net/cfmeu-should-face-criminal-charges-royal-commission/#sthash.LDaBgnVa.dpuf

Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz welcomed the Royal Commission’s findings. He also urged the opposition to back harsher sanctions for misconduct as a deterrent to illegal behaviour. He also called for the reintroduction of the Australian  Building and Construction Commission.

Mr Abetz went on to comment:

 “I would have thought that anybody that is committed to the trade union movement would want to see a clean trade union movement – one where there is not criminality, where there is not thuggery, where there is not funny-money dealings going on,” Abezt said.

– See more at: http://sourceable.net/cfmeu-should-face-criminal-charges-royal-commission/#sthash.LDaBgnVa.dpuf

The Australian Council of Trade Unions, President Ged Kearney labelled the commission a political exercise and dismissed its findings. He also challenged the Abbott government to turn their attention to job creation rather than focussing on the investigations. Kearney went on to explain:

 “Every Liberal Prime Minister since Billy McMahon has had at least one Royal Commission into trade unions – it’s their attack of choice against their political enemies,” Kearney said.

“What we have seen today is a desperate Government trying to make this something that it isn’t.”

– See more at: http://sourceable.net/cfmeu-should-face-criminal-charges-royal-commission/#sthash.LDaBgnVa.dpuf



Royal Adelaide Hospital Building Site Workers Return to Work

The death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo at the Royal Adelaide Hospital building site recently shook up not only the other workers on the site, but the entire Adelaide construction industry. In fact the tragic accident led to workers on the site downing their tools and bringing building progress to a halt.

Jorge Castillo-Riffo, 54, suffered serious head, neck and back injuries at the worksite when he was crushed between a scissor lift and a concrete slab.

The accident occurred on a Thursday and around 1400 workers on the busy site downed their tools until the following week, only resuming normal activities on Tuesday. Normally work continues on the site 24 hours a day with workers operating in rotation night and day.

The following excerpt from an article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains

100x100xOIC_rah_construction_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.XUSM2-gdXBAfter a meeting between the management and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), both parties agreed to shut down the work site out of respect for Castillo-Riffo.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/rah-building-site-workers-return-work/#.VInEdDGUeRw

Not only were workers shocked, traumatized and too shaken to resume work immediately after the accident, but some may have also had concerns about site safety. In addition they were also showing respect to their fallen co-worker. Co-workers were offered counselling and collection tins were distributed to raise money to help support Castillo-Riffo’s family.

Aaron Cartledge, secretary of the CFMEU explained that there is a sense of comradery among the workers,

“One thing that we do well in this industry is that workers do pull together,” Mr Cartledge said.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-28/workers-vote-to-suspend-work-at-royal-adelaide-hospital-site/5924332

The writer of the post explains that Castillo-Riffo suffered from head, neck and back injuries after he was trapped between a scissor lift and a concrete slab on Thursday and was rushed to hospital but died the following day.

The post went on to state:

Workers at the site returned to work Tuesday and paid homage to their fallen co-worker by offering a minute of silence. Aaron Cartledge, CFMEU state secretary said that they will start reviewing the procedures of the site and SafeWork SA will likewise look into the fatal industrial incident.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital building site currently employs more than a thousand workers and operates 24 hours a day.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/rah-building-site-workers-return-work/#.VInEdDGUeRw

Despite some concerns that safety on the RAH work site was being neglected, Health Minister Jack Snelling said he had conveyed to the construction managers how important safety was at the site. He stated that:

“This is … terribly, terribly sad and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and of course to his fellow workers, many of whom have been obviously traumatised by this terrible event,” he said.

Read  more at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-28/workers-vote-to-suspend-work-at-royal-adelaide-hospital-site/5924332

On big sites such as this, it is easy for complacency to set in around safety especially when individual workers aren’t being properly supervised or monitored when in engaging in dangerous activities.

Although productivity is usually the first objective of builders and site controllers, this incident proves how important it is that safety be prioritised and that all workers receive the necessary training and supervision, especially those undertaking high risk work.




Identifying the Risks Associated with Lead Dust and Fume Exposure

An incident that took place in the UK involving workmen being exposed to lead dust and fumes has highlighted the importance of identifying hazards and dealing with risks associated with these hazards.

Lead dust and fume exposure are two of the most unaddressed issues in the construction industry and one of the reasons for this is because these are sometimes not identified beforehand until it is too late. An incident which happened in London is an example of this.

An engineering company and contractor have been fined after 2 workers were exposed to lead during some refurbishment work.

The 2 men required hospitalisation after they inhaled dust and fumes when steel coated in lead paint was cut into in order to be removed from the structure being refurbished.

Blood tests conducted on the 2 workers revealed their lead levels were well above safe levels. As a result of the exposure, both of the workers required intensive treatment and months of monitoring before their blood tests returned to safe levels.

The following excerpt from PPConstructionSafety.com explains further:

leadtowerPortsmouth Crown Court heard (12 December) that Bam Nuttall was responsible for a project to remove weathered steel from the former military control installation that has become a beacon for captains navigating waters around the Isle of Wight and the Solent.

The work involved removing sections of steel using cutting gear. Bam Nuttal Ltd knew the steel was coated in lead paint but failed to apply this knowledge and assess the need for control measures against lead exposure. Four Tees overlooked suitable control measures and failed to arrange suitable medical surveillance for those working with lead. Inspectors concluded there was little measures in place to stop the spread of lead dust and contamination.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/12/12/major-contractor-failed-to-assess-known-lead-risk/

The post on PPConstructionSafety.com went on to remind employers to assume painted materials contain lead unless they can prove otherwise.

The 2 companies involved received fines totally almost £70,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and Control of Lead Work Regulations 2002.

After the hearing, a member of the Health and Safety Executive, Andrew Moore explained:

“The Nab Tower exposure was serious, and demonstrates the need to properly assess and guard against potential inhalation of lead fumes and dust.

The paint coating the steel was known to contain lead and it should have been handled with care from day one. Instead both companies allowed a number of unsafe practices, including eating, drinking and smoking, to continue unchallenged at the site that fuelled potential contamination.

Not that the workers would have known because there was no surveillance in place to monitor levels of lead in their blood and flag when the exposure had occurred.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/12/12/major-contractor-failed-to-assess-known-lead-risk/

It is crucial that employers and duty holders be cautious and err on the side of safety when it comes to hazards. When cutting, stripping or grinding painted material, workers should assume that it contains lead and take the necessary precautions, rather than assuming it doesn’t, only to find out later that it does. Those in control of the work site should ensure that adequate decontamination, surveillance and all necessary controls are implemented so that incidents like this don’t occur.


Pensioner Almost Killed by Falling Fencing

An incident that took place on a construction site in London is not only a tragedy but also an example of neglect of health and safety leading to the death of an elderly member of the public.

The court found that there was a clear risk to the public which should have been easily identified and addressed.

A contractor was subsequently fined after a pensioner was seriously injured as she walked past the London construction site. A metal fence collapsed and knocked the pensioner to the ground on 1 August 2012. The elderly woman suffered debilitating injury and struggles with mobility issues as a result of the incident.

The 91 year woman was walking past the construction site when the fence collapsed onto her causing her to fracture her hip and shoulder. The incident which took place at Bromley High Street required the woman to stay in hospital for a long period of time and has negatively impacted her independence.

The case was heard by a Westminster Magistrates in November. The court heard that Fadil Adil, was responsible for the fence around the building site and the construction of flats and a commercial unit.

The fence was 2metres high and a similar mesh style fencing that is common across the construction industry however in this case the fencing as improperly installed. The magistrates heard that the fencing was not built or maintained to an approved design.

Apparently the fence collapsed not because of poor weather but because of its instability and the fact that it was unfit for the purpose. The court found that there was a clear risk which should have been addressed by Adil sooner.

Mr Adil pleaded guilty and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs plus a further £5,000 in compensation. Following the hearing HSE Inspector Bernardine Cooney said,

publicpensioner“The law clearly states that all temporary works, including fences and hoardings, are properly designed, constructed and maintained by competent people to ensure they are safe.

This clearly wasn’t the case on this occasion and a pensioner was seriously injured as a result. She could have been killed, and the fence also posed a clear risk to other passers-by as well as workers on the construction site it served.

Fadil Adil could and should done more to prevent that risk as the principal contractor responsible for the site.”

Read more at: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2014/11/21/pensioner-struck-by-falling-site-fencing/

This case reminds me of the tragic incident that took place on the Grocon site in Melbourne last year when a wall collapsed and fell onto 3 passers-by, killing all 3. Although this elderly lady was lucky to escape death, the outcome could have been much more tragic.

Employers need to ensure that any risks identified are addressed immediately so that they do not endanger the health and safety of workers or members of the general public.


Public urged to be Patient near Construction Sites Following Fatal Accident

People should be patient on roads near construction sites, Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza said on Saturday after an accident claimed the lives of 11 people.

The accident which took place in Mpumalanga, South Africa highlights the risks associated with road construction work, not only for those working on the site but also members of the public, both pedestrians and motorists.

The premier of the region was quoted by a local newspaper’s website as saying:

dmabuza-600x400“We urge all the road users to work with us as a provincial government in the fight against these cruel accidents,” Mabuza said in a statement.

“We can only win the war against accidents when we all play our part consciously in ensuring that all of us are safe and arrive [at] our destinations alive.”

Source: http://citizen.co.za/252351/stay-calm-near-construction-sites-mpuma-premier/

According to reports a mini-bus taxi and truck collided head on leaving 11 people dead on the scene. It is believed that the taxi failed to stop at a stop sign at a construction site when the truck had been signalled to go. In addition to the 11 killed, 2 people were seriously injured and another four received only minor injuries. The article went on to explain,

Mabuza said a preliminary report from the community safety office suggested that the driver of the kombi failed to stop at the “stop and go” site.

The driver allegedly continued to drive on the single lane afterwards.

“We would like to reiterate our stance that accidents are not only costly to government, but they rob families of their loved one and breadwinners, thereby creating a societal problem,” said Mabuza.

The Mpumalanga government was increasing infrastructure on the roads to ensure the roads were safe, he said.

Source: http://citizen.co.za/252351/stay-calm-near-construction-sites-mpuma-premier/

While it is true that road construction zones can cause delays in traffic movement, people should recognise that road construction and maintenance of our roads is vital. Patience is vital to ensuring that everyone gets through road construction zones safely. Minor inconvenience is necessary because without road construction, roads would deteriorate and eventually become dangerous and cause damage to vehicles.

As the incident above demonstrates, a lack of patience can be fatal on the road esspecially around construction zones. As construction workers it is also important that we minimise the inconvenience to motorists as much as possible.

In Australia, regardless of the type of construction being undertaken, workers must be trained on general construction safety training. This training takes the form of the White Card Course. The White Card course is regulated nationally and because it is nationally recognised workers who obtain their white card can work on a construction site anywhere in Oz.



Council Worker Suffers Electric Shock in Workplace Accident in NSW

Another worker has been hospitalised after suffering an electric shock at a sewerage treatment plant in NSW.

The council employee came into contact with a fallen power line and was electrocuted. The man was apparently battling a grass fire at the time.

According to a report about the incident on OHS website SafetyCulture.com.au, the paramedics arrived at the scene and treated the man who was later taken into hospital in a stable condition. The fire was subsequently extinguished by fire crews. The man is lucky to be alive after being electrocuted by the live power line.

The article on SafetyCulture.com.au concluded by issuing this warning to people as storm season approaches and the risk of live power lines falling to the ground increases,

100x100xparamedics2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.9-6ivU0kppThis is another timely reminder as storm season approaches to beware of fallen power lines and to treat them as live and dangerous.

If you come across fallen power lines, or lines contacting trees, immediately notify the local distribution company.  If on roads or public places, the police should also be notified.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/worker-suffers-electric-shock/#.VInCCDGUeRw

Although everyone in general needs to be aware of the risks associated with fallen power lines, particularly during the storm season when heavy winds have a tendency to cause power lines to fall, construction workers should be trained on how to treat power lines and the risks associated with the storm season for outdoor workers.

Storms are a major threat to construction workers which is why especially during the stormy season workers need to be aware of the weather in advance by watching and listening to weather broadcasts. It is also important to keep an eye out for storms particularly thunderstorms that may threaten and not to being any work that cannot be quickly stopped if lightning starts.

When out at a construction site remember that during thunderstorms, no place outside is safe. Workers should be taught to minimize the risk by assessing the lightning threat and taking the appropriate actions.

If you hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck by lightning so stop working and seek safety within a substantial building. This is not always possible on a work site especially if it is not built substantially as yet, then workers should seek safety in a metal topped vehicle with the windows up.

Workers on construction sites should stay off of and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, ladders, trees, and large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders, and tractors.

You should also never touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes, and plumbing and stay away from areas where explosives are being kept such as on demolition sites.

If a power line falls, always treat it as live and stay away from it.


Building Site Accident- Construction Worker Electrocuted and Hospital left without Power

An accident on a construction site in Seattle in The USA has left one person dead and hundreds of others in danger, it has also highlighted how dangerous work on construction sites can be.

A 38 year old worker was killed after being electrocuted during the accident when he was doing some work with a compressed air tool. A hospital in the area as well as a number of surrounding neighbourhoods was left without power following the accident.

The incident is a reminder of the risks associated with electrical hazards on construction hazards, risks that can affect not only workers on the site but even members of the public.

In this case a hospital lost its power as a result of the accident, this could have resulted in serious complications for its patients. According to the report 890 customers were affected.

The following excerpt from an article on Myedmondsnews.com explains what happened to trigger the accident:

According to police spokesman Sgt. Josh McClure, the victim was working with a compressed air tool while in a ditch, and died at the scene. Snohomish County PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said the worker’s contact with the line caused the outage at 1:50 p.m.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud boom at the time of the outage, but Neroutsos said he couldn’t yet confirm whether a transformer blew. The outage affected about 890 customers, he added.

McClure said that power outage not only affected the hospital but was scattered across several Edmonds neighborhoods including downtown.  Swedish/Edmonds used backup generators until power was restored about 2:24 p.m, he said. According to McClure, power interruptions in the area may still be possible.

Source: http://myedmondsnews.com/2014/08/updated-worker-dies-after-construction-accident-at-swedishedmonds-wednesday/

Electrical hazards are just one hazard that is present on a building site, there are numerous others hazards associated with construction activities.

Due to the hazardous nature of construction work and the risks presented to workers such as the risk of electrocution, health and safety plays a particularly important role in the lives of workers.

There are many aspects of workplace health and safety that we need to become familiar with before we can operate on a high risk work site such as a construction site fairly safely. In order to become familiar with construction health and safety workers must complete general construction induction training.

Construction safety training is mandatory for all construction workers in Oz regardless of which state or territory a person plans to work, this ensures that workers can seek employment anywhere in the country and a fairly uniform course is completed by all workers which also promotes and enhances safety.

One of the topics covered by the general construction safety course, also known as The White Card course, is electrical hazards. As already mentioned electrical hazards are just one of the hazards presented by construction work and completion of the course will teach workers about the other most prevalent hazards and risks that they may face on building and construction sites so that they do not work in a way that endangers the safety and health of their co-workers or themselves.

The White Card which can be completed quickly and conveniently online, also teaches workers about what the law says about health and safety, what their duty of care is when it comes to WHS and the responsibility of employers to their employees in the construction industry.


New Paint Technology Better for Health and Safety

Construction news website Sourceable.net recently posted an article about the advancements in paint technology which are having positive influences on the health and safety of workers as compared to old fashioned paints.

The new, advanced paint solutions offer both functional and aesthetic benefits as well. Some of the functional benefits include structural reinforcement and better indoor air quality which unlike previous paints does not negatively affect people’s health.

Paint consists of pigments, binders and solvents. Pigments provide the colour for the paint and binders cause the paint to stick to the material being painted. Solvents such as water and mineral spirits carry the binder and the pigment until the paint is applied and then it evaporates. Some paints have additional components, for example to add texture or reflectivity. As the article highlights improvements in the elements that make up the paint, have benefits for workers as well as people inhabiting and working in these structures.

The article goes on to discuss different paints, such as Graphene paint and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Biocides in Paint. The article highlighted the benefits of technologically advanced Graphene paint,

paintGaphene can also repair itself when damaged. Researchers at the University of Manchester, UK, including Konstantin Novoselov, one of the original discoverers of graphene and a Nobel laureate, bombarded damaged graphene sheets with pure carbon. The carbon atoms automatically filled in the gaps in the hexagonal structure of the graphene and restored its strength. This offers the potential for damaged graphene in structures to be repaired relatively quickly and simply.

Graphene’s conductivity also lends itself to production of electricity. Novoselov’s team has also produced paper-thin wafers made from graphene and other thin materials that conduct electricity on par with today’s typical photovoltaic cells. Adding graphene to paint, Novoselov said, may enable them to create paint that generates electricity for the building, an approach similar to solar sensitive nanoparticles.

Source: http://sourceable.net/advances-paint-good-buildings-people/#sthash.ln86dwqt.dpuf

The article goes on to highlight how graphene’s low resistance to electron flow makes it more efficient for photovoltaic cells, an element that  suggests it has the potential to make solar electricity for the built environment cheaper and more accessible.

The benefits of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Biocides in Paint were also highlighted:

Solvents evaporating are one of the issues with VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Modern paints may contain hundreds or thousands of chemicals, some of which are toxic to humans. Low-VOC and no-VOC paints reduce the number of VOCs, making them healthier for both installers and the occupants or users of the building.

Read more at: http://sourceable.net/advances-paint-good-buildings-people/#sthash.ln86dwqt.dpuf

The writer goes on to explain that even VOC-free paint can contain toxic chemicals but most commercially made paints include additives that inhibit the growth of mould, mildew, bacteria, and fungus. Some of those additives, such as triclosan, methylosothiazolin (MIT), and benzisothiazolin-3-one (BIT), are implicated in a variety of adverse health reactions for painters as well as building inhabitants.

Although painters can be confident that new paint technology is good for their health, especially in the long term where previous paints had adverse effects, painters’ safety also needs to be a priority and the first step to ensuring this is completing construction safety training in the form of The White Card Course.


New Law Requires Tags on Mr Fluffy Homes

Mr Fluffly homes have become a real concern for homeowners in possession of homes built in the 1960s and 1970s as well as builders and other tradespeople whose job requires them to work on these old homes in Canberra.

This is because a number of these homes still contain harmful loose amosite asbestos with the potential to induce fatal asbestos diseases such as Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and other lung related cancers. That is why a new law requiring the visible tagging of homes containing Mr Fluffy insulation has been so welcomed.

The new law requires the placement of visible tags in the meter boxes of all affected Canberra homes so that tradies and homeowners can be particularly cautious when working on these homes and can arrange for the appropriate removal by registered specialist if necessary.

The problem with these homes is presented when these loose asbestos fibres are disturbed and become airborne, for example when the house is under renovation, however when dormant these fibres don’t present a threat.

According to authorities the aim of the new law is to protect the health and safety of tradies who are most likely to come into contact with these asbestos fibres which are still present in a number of old Canberra homes. The law will be enforced by ACT WorkSafe who is expected to provide more than 1000 tags to affected homeowners.

The tags which are apparently composed of an industrial strength self-adhesive vinyl will be provided to homeowners free of charge and they will have until January first 2015 to have them fixed to their meter boxes.

Homeowners have no reason not to ensure they comply considering that there is no charge to them however if they fail to attach the tag before the beginning of next year, it will be considered an offence and homeowners will have to face the consequences.

The new law regarding the tags was recently announced by The ACT’s chief Minister Katy Gallagher,

100x100xasbestos_hazard_thumb1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.bAtcdjtATc “It is important that the government focus not only on those living in affected Mr Fluffy houses, but also apply strategies to protect tradespeople and other workers who may come into contact with affected homes,” the Chief Minister said.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/08/new-safety-measure-visible-tags-required-canberras-mr-fluffy-homes/#.U_dFhPmSyRw

The chief minister explained that all workers would have to be trained in the risks associated with their work and that the tagging was just one way of raising awareness of work with asbestos,

 “All workers must be trained in risks they may encounter as part of their work. The ACT Government has recently mandated asbestos awareness training for all tradespeople and other workers who may come into contact with asbestos. This training, which specifically deals with Mr Fluffy asbestos, must be undertaken by 30 September this year,” the Chief Minister said.

“Tradespeople should also continue to discuss the circumstance of homes they may be working on with homeowners, ask for copies of any asbestos assessment reports for the property and engage appropriately licensed asbestos experts to assist with the work to be undertaken.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/08/new-safety-measure-visible-tags-required-canberras-mr-fluffy-homes/#.U_dFhPmSyRw

Homeowners should not think that the new law negates their duty to inform tradies of the presence of Mr Fluffy insulation and possibility of harmful asbestos, and provide them with a copy of an asbestos assessment report.


Conference on Asbestos Held in Melbourne:

Latest figures from Safe Work Australia show that in 2011 there were 606 mesothelioma deaths and 125 asbestosis deaths in Australia. That is a total of 731 people who died from the 2 asbestos induced diseases. This is obviously a serious issue especially for us here in Oz where asbestos related disease rates are at their highest. In fact on the UK can rival Oz in asbestos deaths.

That is why the first Australian International Conference on asbestos awareness being held in Melbourne is of the utmost importance.

The awareness and management conference is currently on at the Crown Melbourne Southbank Victoria. The event was organised by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and is part of events to mark the National Asbestos Awareness Month.

The conference is being made up of a panel of experts from around the globe with extensive knowledge of asbestos management, health, advocacy and research. The conference is hoped to highlight the need for change in our region and around the world when dealing with asbestos risks.

According to speaker at the conference Peter Tighe of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, both the UK and Australia are facing similar risk from the widespread use of asbestos sheeting. However the use of asbestos is apparently greater in Oz than in The UK because of the use of sheeting in housing constructed between 1950 and 1970 despite the UK having the leading number of mesothelioma deaths in the world.

A variety of pertinent asbestos related issues will be tabled at the conference and according to the agency’s website some of the topics to be covered include:

Day 1

  • A US perspective of asbestos and public health
  • Asbestos Safety and Awareness
  • Litigation trends in  Asbestos Related Diseases (ARD)
  • The importance of building and sustaining strategic global and domestic partnerships
  • Case study: Proactive public campaign – Mr Fluffy
  • Removal and Disposal

Day 2

  • Epidemiology and trends in asbestos-related diseases
  • Asbestos management – best practise, Ergon Energy
  • The need for Quality training
  • Disease prevention and current treatments of ARDs
  • Managing the DIY and domestic environment

For more information visit http://asbestossafetyconference2014.org/program/

The 2 day conference “Working towards an asbestos free Australia” kicked off on Sunday and this is what a post on SafetyCulture.com.au had to say about the event:

100x100xasbestos.jpg.pagespeed.ic.QXMkrXdpeZThis event will provide a stimulating and entertaining environment for delegates and stakeholders to discuss the big issues facing them in raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos in our work and domestic environment and how it can be managed into the future.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/11/first-australian-international-conference-asbestos-awareness-management/#.VGOH-fmUeRw

Builders involved in renovation work on older homes are at a particular risk, so assisting these members of the population minimise their risk is crucial to tackling this third wave of asbestos related diseases that is sweeping the country.

Obviously builders and tradespeople must still be trained in asbestos risk but homeowners also need to take responsibility for informing all tradespeople that may work on their homes that it may be affected by the asbestos.



Royal Adelaide Hospital Construction Site Accident


Workers at Royal Adelaide Hospital construction site vote to walk off job after

royal adelaide hospitla construction site acccident

This tragic accident ocurred this morning in Adelaide, as reported by the ABC below:
ABC Online – ‎5 hours ago‎
About 1,400 workers will stop work at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital construction site until Tuesday after a fellow worker was critically injured. A 54-year-old man suffered serious head and neck injuries at the worksite yesterday when he was crushed …

 Credits: Workers at Royal Adelaide Hospital construction site vote to walk off job … – ABC Online


Union secretary Aaron Cartledge said the workers were too traumatised and distraught to return to work this morning.

“A lot of people are still doing it hard out there, a lot of guys are very emotional,” he said.

Working from heights on equipment like a Scissor Lift is an activity that should have specific training for all participating workers.  

Working from heights, although covered briefly in the White Card course, is also a separate qualification, although it is not clear in this event, whether the tradesman would have required the WFH ticket in this case or not.

WhiteCardOnlineExpress.com.auas safety training exponents send condolances, thoughts and prayers to the injured worker's family and friends.



New Zealand Job Expo to Recruit WA Construction Workers

Western Australian construction workers may soon see themselves being recruited by New Zealand employers as the country’s economy begins to lift and the rate of unemployment falls. The country is seeking skilled construction workers, an article on Abc.net.au explains.

Even more reason for people considering construction as a career has presented itself, this time as opportunities for construction jobs open up in New Zealand. While Australia experiences its own construction boom, construction workers are now also in demand in New Zealand.

According to the article, a contingent of 30 New Zealand government and business representatives will travel to Pert next week to attempt to fill  2000 immediate vacancies and convince thousands more to move across to New Zealand. They will apparently also be trying to persuade expatriates, who left to work in mining in WA, to return home especially as activity in the Australian mining sector winds down.

The New Zealand Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said that many positions are available in various sectors of the economy. ICT and construction are in particular need of workers, the minister said:

4269872-3x2-340x227“We have some real shortages in a few areas, one in the ICT space, that’s common around the world, but in New Zealand we have some fast-growing ICT companies,” he said.

We’re training as many people as we can but there’s a shortage.

“Our economy’s going pretty well and we’ve got some significant shortages so we thought it would be an opportunity to profile the fact that there’s some great opportunities back in NZ.”

“In the construction area, obviously the Christchurch rebuild is continuing.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-15/new-zealand-attempts-to-lure-workers-from-wa/5893720

The “rebuild” that the minister is speaking of, which is driving construction in Christchurch was caused by the earthquake that hit in 2011 and resulted in the deaths of 185 people. It also destroyed 70 per cent of buildings in Christ Church city centre.

Auckland has a real shortage of construction workers and the government is appealing for workers who left New Zealand to work in WA during the boom here, to return to Auckland to fill skills shortages.

Mr Joyce went on to explain:

“There’s significant numbers of New Zealanders that have worked in Western Australia over the last few years around some of the bigger projects which are now finishing,” said Mr Joyce.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-15/new-zealand-attempts-to-lure-workers-from-wa/5893720

Mr Joyce said that between 300,000 to 400,000 New Zealanders moved to Tasman in the last 15 years for work. Now that employment rates are improving and skills shortages are being identified, these workers are being asked to consider moving back.

It is believed that job offers are going to be made to workers on the spot, particularly in sectors like construction and engineering. Nigel Bickle from New Zealand’s Ministry of Business explained:

“With unemployment falling and economic growth picking up, we need as many skilled workers as we can find particularly in construction, engineering, healthcare, the tech sector and trades,” he said.

“We’re visiting Perth to urge skilled workers to relocate temporarily or permanently. We’re also asking Kiwis to consider returning home.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-15/new-zealand-attempts-to-lure-workers-from-wa/5893720

There has never been a better time to enter the construction industry, and for workers who aren’t sure what their next step should be, they should be completing the White Card course which is the mandatory general construction safety course in Oz. No matter where in the world workers move, the knowledge gained by completing the White Card course is invaluable to safety and can be applied anywhere in the world to enhance health and safety, even if workers are considering moving to New Zealand or anywhere else in Australia.

Mr Joyce went on to explain that more skilled workers were needed to continue the country’s economic growth which is why they will recruiting workers at the Jobs Expo at Scarborough’s Rendezvous Hotel on November 22 and 23.Mr Joyce explained:

“We’ve been growing at just under 4 per cent and it looks like we’re continuing to grow,” he said.

“Unemployment is down in the low 5s and our employment is up to nearly two-thirds of the adult population which is quite a significant lift.

“The worry is that we’ll start to hit capacity constraints for our economy in particular areas, including construction, engineering and ICT, unless we keep building that workforce.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-15/new-zealand-attempts-to-lure-workers-from-wa/5893720



Dealing With Incidents

How to deal with Incidents is an important part of any construction worker's safety induction and on-site induction, as well as part of regular process on a building site.

Hindsight Biad in Dealing With Construction Incidents

Dolphyn.com.au recently contributed on Safetyrisk.net's blog:

Most approaches to incident investigation focus on technique and process. This is important, gathering facts and compiling important information is critical. However, what most approaches don’t consider the range of biases that come with being human. In particular, it is crucial to understand and be mindful of hindsight bias.  Credits: Dealing with Incidents

Dolphyn's “Conversations on the Couch”  video below provides some interesting findings about “Hindsight Bias”:

Credits: Dealing with Incidents



Number of Residential Dwellings being Built Less than Required

The rate at which we are currently churning out houses is around 30,000 less than what is actually required in order to meet the demand, according to a recent analysis of the home building industry.

Although we are experiencing a housing boom in Oz, new projections show that Australia’s long-run average annual rate of new home building could be tens of thousands less than what is necessary to meet future demand.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) released its’ analysis of a range of scenarios regarding population and income growth through to the year 2050. According to the HIA projections, we would need a total of 186,391 new houses and apartments if medium growth rates of each plausible scenario come to pass.

The HIA says that medium growth figures indicate construction deficit of at least 30,000 homes a year. This is compared to average yearly commencements of just under 157,000 over the 2 decades leading to June2014 according to ABS data.

However the deficit spoken of by the HIA is not equal throughout Oz. The HIA says that states such as South Australia and Tasmania which have low population growth rates are actually building more homes than required in the long run, the high growth states such as NSW require a much greater increase in home construction productivity.

According to an article on Sourceable.net the long term average home building rates in Western Australia on the other hand need to be increased by more than half in order to meet the demands, under the HIA’s implied scenarios for the state.

It should however be noted that these projections are subject to considerable variability and implied annual levels of demand for new housing vary from 248,186 to 118,164, depending on which scenarios actually play out.

The post on Sourceable.net also goes on to quote HIA economist Geordan Murray who explained that medium scenario figures put the current cyclical boom in new housing construction into perspective.

residentialconstruction“In 2013/14, the number of new homes built was about the same as the number of new homes demanded by the population during the year,” he said. “Unfortunately a match of this kind is an aberration – throughout much of the last decade there was a considerable mismatch between the level of demand for housing and the amount of new home building.”

Read more at: http://sourceable.net/australia-building-30000-less-homes-than-needed-each-year/#sthash.xc9PzYGZ.dpuf

HIA goes on to detail how each state compares and what would be required in order to meet the demand through to 2050 (assuming that medium range projects prevail).

Even with a modest rate of expected population growth (one per cent), New South Wales would need to lift activity from historic home building rates of 40,861 new houses and apartments per annum (20 year annual averages of dwelling commencements to June 2014 – ABS figures) to 45,284 dwellings per annum

Strong growing Victoria would have to lift historic building rates from 42,731 per annum to 46,669 per annum

Stronger growing Queensland would require a massive lift in annual home-building rates from 35,862 dwellings per annum to 44,364 dwellings per annum

Booming Western Australia would require a bigger lift still from 21,125 new dwellings to 34,993

The ACT and Northern Territory would have to lift historic build rates from 2,854 and 1,497 to 3,455 and 1,962 respectively.

Read more at: http://sourceable.net/australia-building-30000-less-homes-than-needed-each-year/#sthash.xc9PzYGZ.dpuf



Perfect Time to get to know Asbestos

November is Asbestos Awareness Month and all Aussies are being called to participate actively in the activities that are on offer. Activities include hosting a “Blue Lamington Drive” to highlight asbestos issues in homes and help raise crucial money for the Asbestos Disease Research Institute and Support Groups.

The Awareness campaign is titled ‘Get to know Asbestos this November’ and will educate Australians on the risks associated with asbestos and how these risks should controlled.

The initiative also includes Council Awards which will incorporate a number of categories linked to asbestos. Firms that are active in the campaign will be eligible to enter the awards. This excerpt from an article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains more:

Aside from the Blue Lamington Drive, Betty – The ADRI House will be visiting communities around Sydney and Melbourne Metropolitan areas throughout November to educate people about where asbestos may be found in and around homes built before 1987.

Organisations who actively participate in the Asbestos Awareness Month will also be qualified to enter The Betty Awards.

Council Awards

Most Innovative Asbestos Awareness Month Council Campaigner: National

Most Active Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Metropolitan Council (State)

Most Active Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Regional Council (State)

Best Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Association or Community Group

Best Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Business or Corporate

Best Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Government Department or Organisation

Best Asbestos Awareness Month Campaigner: Individual

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/11/get-know-asbestos-november/#.VGh5yvmUeRw

The article goes on to detail that the use of asbestos has become extremely contentious and health organisations around the globe are issuing warnings about the serious health implications that asbestos poses. In fact the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that around 107 workers around the world die annually because of asbestos related diseases.

The article also highlights the fact that asbestos is known as a “hidden killer” sometimes taking as many as 60 years after the first exposure for fatal diseases to develop such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestos. In Oz at least 25,000 people are expected to die from asbestos related disease in the next 4 decades.

Although the use of asbestos has been banned in the country since the 1980s, there were many buildings that were constructed prior to this which are still standing today and being inhabited by people who may be unwittingly exposing themselves and their families to deadly asbestos. Building materials that contained asbestos included under floor covers such as coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings, eaves, garages, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, outdoor toilets, dog kennels, chook yards and backyard sheds.

The Asbestos Awareness Campaign website states:

849x565xpicresized_1415026282_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.0MVoIIEEYF“It’s vital that Australians take the warnings seriously, that they stop playing ‘renovation roulette’ and protect themselves and their families from exposure to asbestos fibres during renovations and maintenance,”

“Australians need to think smart, think safe, think asbestos awareness.com.au – it’s not worth the risk!”

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/11/get-know-asbestos-november/#.VGh5yvmUeRw

Watch the Asbestos Awareness Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV9kK_nCBzE


New Smart Phone App to help save Worker Lives

While many technologies are labelled nuisances in the workplace, particularly high risk construction places like the construction industry, there are many new advancements in the field of safety technology that is aimed at enhancing safety particularly on the construction site. For example mobile phones on site can become a distraction to workers which can endanger their safety but they can also be a valuable tool to enhance safety.

The reason the new technology can be so beneficial to the construction industry is because it is focused at tracking missing workers on a site during evacuation.

Evacuation as we know is common on construction sites especially when safety issues arise involving fires, crane mishaps, structural collapses etc. The new smart phone app aims to improve rescue efforts during work accidents and has been hailed as a “pioneering development” in life saving technology.

The team that developed the app has now been awarded a grant of $50,000 by the ACT Government Economic Development Directorate to make further improvements to their site safety app. The company SignOnSite explained that their app helps track missing workers on site during evacuation.

Ultimately the app will increase a worker’s chance of survival should an emergency on site occur.

The following excerpt explains:

fire“With this new feature of the app, construction workers will be able to specify exactly where they are on site and the app can potentially live-track their movements in these high-risk environments once an evacuation is started,” said Alexandria Garlan, a construction management student.

Another student, Mitchell Harmer said the app could save lives.

“For example, rather than a fire fighter searching an entire burning building to try and find a missing person, the app can show them that the person was last recorded being in a specific room, so they might be able to reach them quicker,” said Mr Harmer.

“If there is an emergency, this technology will potentially increase the chance of survival for both an employee lost on site or the emergency services workers trying to find them.”

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/app-revolutionise-emergency-rescue-technology/

The article on SafetyCulture.com.au goes on to explain that the company is also developing another safety app called Lone Worker which is designed specifically for workers who work in solitary. The app allows these workers to communicate with the employers off-site about their situation at a simple click of a button. The developers are apparently working in conjunction with ACT Emergency Services and the construction industry in the development of these apps.

The article goes on to explain:

The funding adds to the $35,000 the students’ were awarded in 2013 at the Innovation ACT awards to develop the app and a further $10,000 grant from St George bank they won this month to support their business.

The group is seeking industry consultation on their apps. More information can be found on the SignOnSite website.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/app-revolutionise-emergency-rescue-technology/

While new developments in technology are revolutionising the way we stay safe in the construction field, there is nothing that can replace good quality safety training. Any worker beginning a job on a construction site must undergo safety training first and the best quality training can now be obtained online. The course teaches workers important safety issues such as what to do in an emergency and requirements for workers in isolation.

The mandatory White Card course is now available online, allowing workers to complete training within a day whilst gaining all the necessary safety knowledge to stay safe on a building site.

See more here to do a White Card course online


Crane Collapses on School

According to a report in SafetyCulture.com.au a crane collapse has occurred in Ballarat, toppling onto a school which had been destined for demolition.

The following excerpt is from the article and explains further:

crane1A building along Ajax Street has a damaged roof and a cracked wall after a crane toppled onto its side during works Tuesday morning.

According to The Courier, no one was injured in the 11.30am incident at Ballarat Clarendon College.

Workers said the building was earmarked for demolition.

Ballarat Clarendon College confirmed they owned the building but declined to comment on the incident.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/07/operator-escapes-unhurt-crane-falls-school-building/#.U8vpJfmSyJg

Although no one was injured in this incident, the freak nature of construction accidents and crane collapses in particular make it very clear why safety should be a priority on every work site, especially construction work sites where hazards and risks abound.

Anyone working on a construction site or in the vicinity of a building site may potentially be at risk of injury because of the hazardous nature of the construction environment, obviously people cannot be expected to simply walk onto a construction site already knowing what is expected of them in terms of safety (and what to expect of their employers in terms of their duty of care), that is the purpose of the general construction induction course.

More on Crane Safety

It is important that workers on construction sites exercise diligence and check to ensure that cranes are properly checked and certified. They should report any malfunctions or suspicions they may come across.

Unfortunately one of the most common causes of crane mishaps are malfunctions. Malfunctions sometimes cannot be avoided but it is important that cranes are properly maintained. It is also vital that cranes are inspected before each use. Operators need to be made aware of the importance of reporting any malfunctions on the machinery. Usually if operators aren’t properly trained and high risk certified, they will not be aware of the proper procedures to follow and the importance of checking, maintaining and reporting on cranes, therefore employers need to ensure that they hire operators that are qualified for the job.

Another major problem associated with toppling cranes is overloading. This is also associated with a lack of training and a lack of adherence to safety as workers who engage in this are often in a rush to get the job done as quickly as possible without taking into consideration the cranes limits etc.

Site Safety Training

In addition to operators being high risk certified and all workers on site having completed the necessary task specific and site specific safety training, it is also compulsory for everyone on site to complete general construction induction training, known as The White Card course.

The federal government has mandated that due to the high risk nature of construction work, anyone who works on a construction site, regardless of the job they are undertaking, complete general construction safety training first and have in their possession a valid White Card as proof of doing so.




Mass Construction No Excuse for Lack of Safety

One of the reasons why White Card training is compulsory for people engaged in any form of construction is because it highlights the general construction safety issues that workers tend to overlook because of familiarity, especially more experienced workers, working on larger construction projects.

For example one of the issues the course covers is safe work from heights because although this is a major cause of injury and fatalities in the construction sector, it is also commonly overlooked because it so often occurs in the field.  Unfortunately it is human nature for familiarity to breed complacency.

Workers think that because they are exposed to work from heights on a daily basis, they are more immune to the risks than others who aren’t familiar with working from heights. This is simply not the case, and it applies to all hazards that occur on a construction site, which is why White Card training has been mandated by the federal government.

Another problematic issue related to complacent attitudes on construction sites is the lack of safety on larger construction projects. It is common for site controllers to lose track of what’s going on in terms of safety controls when there are hundreds of workers operating on a single site, engaged in a number of different trade activities at the same time.

And with a number of new big projects being planned and many already commenced in the state, it is important that we do not lose focus of the important issues, of which safety is a priority.

One such project is the expansion of the Melbourne Airport. Melbourne Airport has spent $420 million last financial year and that amount is expected to double this financial year due to the construction at its business park. The construction consists of a warehouse and logistics facilities for TNT, Toll Group, DHL and an apartment complex for the Quest Group. The 360 hectare business park has about 26 freight facilities and will be one of the biggest in the state when complete.

CEO Chris Woodruff recently stated:

Article Lead - wide6129534810hu361410854987805.jpg-620x349“Next year alone we expect to invest around $700 million as part of sustained 10-year investment period,” Mr Woodruff said.

Much of that outlay will be spent on a new terminal and road links to cope with growing passenger numbers.

“Asia continued to drive our international growth with China holding its place as our most important long haul market. Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan all grew by an extraordinary minimum of 20 per cent,” Mr Woodruff said.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/melbourne-airport-to-remain-one-of-victorias-biggest-construction-sites-20140916-10hrsk.html#ixzz3DnZfiEFi

According Woodruff, there will be a new domestic terminal which cost an estimated half a billion dollars. It includes a ground transport hub for picking up and dropping off passengers and vehicle parking. This stage of the construction should be completed by mid 2015.

The airport’s property and construction executive, Linc Horton was also quoted, explaining that this construction site is one of the largest in the state and will probably remain so over the next decade. He explained that plans are also underway for four construction stages of an elevated loop road to ease traffic congestion at the airport.



White Card Update: Importance of Guarding Against Falls in Construction

Man Hospitalised after Construction Site Fall

Yet another fall incident has taken place on a construction site in Melbourne, this time leaving a worker nursing serious injuries after he fell from the second storey of the building under construction.

According to reports the man fell five metres from the second storey of the building and landed on the first floor. The man suffered a serious spinal injury from the fall.

The following excerpt from SafetyCulture.com.au explains what happened:

Paramedics3The man was lowered to the ground using a hydraulic platform and later rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where his condition was said to be stable.

The man is believed to have suffered a serious spinal injury.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/09/construction-site-fall-leaves-man-hospital/#.VAYXzPmSyRw

The article goes on to describe the high rate of workplace falls that take place each year on Aussie construction sites.

According to Safe Work Australia, work related injuries and fatalities related to a fall from a height are the most common cause of death and serious injury.

The following statistics explain more:

Over the eight-year period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 232 workers were killed following a fall from a height, 11% of all workers killed over this period.

In the eight years from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 20 workers died following a fall from a building under construction. Falls from height accounted for 6% of all serious workers’ compensation claims in 2010–11.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/09/construction-site-fall-leaves-man-hospital/#.VAYXzPmSyRw

In order to get these statistics under control more attention has to be paid to work from height safety.

Although most workers don’t see the need for fall protection when the fall risk is less than 2 or 3 metres, even falls from relatively low heights can be injury causing. Some people have even sustained fatal injuries after falling from these low levels.

Providing workers with a safe work environment and a safe system of work also includes implementing the correct measures to protect workers from work height hazards. Employers should ensure that work sites with work from height hazards have a height safety policy in place, regardless of the size of the site or the company. Even small companies and small work sites can be the source of serious health and safety incidents.

Employers should not just provide workers with fall protection systems and expect them to use common sense to utilise them. Once a plan has been developed, workers must be trained on this work from height safety plan. Employers must thereafter ensure that the plan is being adhered to, supervision of workers on site is paramount to ensuring safety. Employers and employees should also get to know what Australian legislation says about work from heights and abide by it.

Once a work from height plan has been developed and implemented, employers should also remember to review the plan regularly. As the construction progresses, the safety needs will change and the plan needs to change along with it. Once changes are implemented workers must be informed and trained accordingly.


Man Whose Head Was Crushed In Construction Accident Gets Titanium Skull


Photo source: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/3d-printed-titanium-skull-in-chinese-man-2014-9

Many of the accidents that take place on construction sites are minor and the injuries don’t appear too drastic (we tend to be shocked by images such as the one above), but every now then an accident happens which causes such disfigurement that it shocks even the most seasoned of construction workers. That is the case with a 46 year old workman from Xian China who suffered serious disfigurement that his skull now has to be rebuilt using the latest 3D technology and titanium.

An article featured on www.Businessinsider.com.au detailed how far the medical profession has come in plastic surgery and the replacement of body parts which can now be customised to an individual’s needs using a revolutionary new system but I found most interesting was the effects that the construction worker suffered as a result of a fall from a height. The article explains:

This year alone, doctors have printed tubes that stabilised a child’s collapsed windpipe and they have installed the first ever 3D printed vertebra in a 12-year-old boy.

Now, in a surgery that was one of the first of its kind, doctors replaced part of a Chinese man’s skull with 3D printed titanium mesh that was moulded to perfectly restore the part of his skull that had been smashed in an accident.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/3d-printed-titanium-skull-in-chinese-man-2014-9

The accident which disfigured Hu, a 46 year old construction worker from Xian happened whilst he was working on a construction project when fell 3 stories and smashed his head on a pile of wood.

As a result of the fall, the man smashed in a portion of his skull and this caused damage to his brain. The man suffered serious vision loss in his left and lost the ability to write and speak.

This is an example of the type of consequences that can result from construction accidents – making the need for safety even more clear.

The outcome for Hu may have been bad, but he has been given some hope by the new medical breakthrough,

Doctors at Xijing Hospital in Xi’an brought in experts from around the world to try and figure out how to restore some sense of normalcy for Hu. They decided to scan Hu’s head and 3D print a titanium mesh replacement for part of his cranium, modelled after the right side of his head in order to give him a symmetrical appearance.

Even more impressive, his doctors think that after his brain has time to repair itself and grow within its new titanium structure, Hu should regain some of his lost ability to communicate.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/3d-printed-titanium-skull-in-chinese-man-2014-9

Others may not be as lucky as Hu, firstly to survive the accident and secondly to be able to receive medical attention to correct the effects of the fall incident. Although nothing can erase the pain and suffering that Hu suffered.

One of the ways that workers can avoid falling victim to the hazards presented by construction work  as Hu did, is adhering to their safety training.

Training for Australian construction workers involves completing the White Card course, a general construction safety induction course which equips workers with the basic health and safety knowledge necessary to work on a construction site.


Health and Safety News: Good housekeeping not just for Housewives

There are thousands of worker injuries taking place all over Australia on any given day, costing the economy billions annually. Most of these injuries are avoidable yet many of them actually permanently disable, maim and even kill workers simply because health and safety did not take precedence on the work site. While many employers and site controllers know how to satisfy inspectors by imposing the minimum safety controls required by the law, there are certain safety measures that are commonly known but tend to slip through the cracks on a busy, ever-changing construction site – one them being housekeeping.

Workers can often become complacent when it comes to housekeeping or may even have the best intentions but in the rush of knocking off at the end of the day, forget to keep their “house” in order by basically cleaning up after themselves.

Also because construction has typically been such a masculine industry, the very term “housekeeping” may cause male construction workers to put up mental barriers and attach a feminine connotation to the phrase but truthfully speaking housekeeping on a construction site could be considered more important that housekeeping in the traditional sense because people’s lives are at risk.

Another concern that people have when it comes to housekeeping in the workplace is how to approach it but housekeeping should be approached like any other hazard on a construction site is. Employers or site controllers should also ensure that this hazard is assessed and inspected regularly to ensure that no hazards slip through the cracks. As with any other hazard, they should be eliminated, substituted or controlled. In many cases housekeeping may not solve the problem but it will minimise the risk of injuries resulting.

Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to housekeeping, the main issues that seem to arise are:

  • Storage issues
  • Debris and waste
  • Dust and air pollutants

Suitable Storage

One of the most important safety controls with regards to housekeeping involves storage safety. Employers must ensure that when storing materials on construction sites, it is done in a safe manner that does not pose a threat to the safety of workers or visitors to the site.

For example, when materials, equipment or plant and machinery are being stacked for storage it is important that the plant and materials cannot fall on a person. Workers should also be able to retrieve equipment and materials from storage without being injured or injuring others.

Disposing of Dust and Waste materials

When it comes to debris, the most important rule is that debris is progressively removed from the site before it is able to pile up. If debris builds up on the site it can become problematic in a number of ways such as presenting tripping hazards, blocking emergency and regular entrances and can also fall on workers causing injury.   They also become a fire hazard.

Also when it comes to painting on the site, paint waste and wash waters need to be discharged properly and not into storm water drains.

When using oil based cleaning materials, they should be filtered for reuse or taken to an appropriately licensed waste depot. Unused paint should be disposed of in a similar manner and not just dumped anywhere.

Dealing with Dust

Dust is another particularly problematic issue on construction sites because it affects the health of everyone and not just those workers involved with the work. When inhaled or ingested it can make people sick and can also affect people’s eyes if it gets in. To avoid this risk, the appropriate amount of water should be used to keep roads and stockpiles moist to limit the amount of dust in the air and pollution which can spread into storm water drains and the entire system.

Employees can monitor if the proper precautions are being followed by employers in relation to this hazard including providing the proper safety training to workers, if not they should report it through the proper channels because their health and safety and that of their co-workers is being threatened.

The White Card course is here


GoldCoast Building Boom Creates Local Jobs

The growth in the construction industry nationally is starting to have real benefits for local communities. We recently heard that a boom in the construction industry is taking place on the Gold Coast, creating work for local tradies with 2 big projects beginning soon, at Burleigh and Ormeau.

The southeast Queensland manager for JM Kelly Builder, Mr Lewkowicz is managing up to 30 tradies each weekday on the construction site that will be the $3 million science department at Maryland College in Burleigh Waters. Lewkowicz says that for the first time in years builders are able to gain work locally rather than having to travel for work.

He was quoted as saying:

703980-5c683fc2-2f47-11e4-bf64-1d189c635373“The tradies are starting to work locally again because quite simply the work is more fluid, and I have not seen that in years,” Mr Lewkowicz said.

“The M1 used to be packed at 5-6am with tradies heading to Brisbane, but that’s starting to change.

“There’s a level of confidence coming back into the local industry.”

Source: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/gold-coast-building-boom-keeps-construction-workers-in-local-jobs-with-two-big-projects-at-burleigh-and-ormeau-soon-to-get-underway/story-fnjc2dm2-1227044703691

The Master Builders Association recently issued a report which supported Lewkowicz’ views. The report surveyed conditions in the industry for the quarter ending June which showed a positive turnover for the 4th quarter in a row.

Improvements were shown in the residential and commercial construction activity. Companies experienced greater profitability into positive territory for the first time since the Global Financial Crisis.

The Master Builders report went on to state that further improvement is expected in the sector. In fact it is expected that the industry will experience sustained growth.

The announcement that the sector is growing comes at a time when a number of new major construction projects have been announced for the Gold Coast. In fact according to Master Builders, the improvement in the industry is expected to be state-wide.

The article went on to explain:

The improved outlook coincides with developers announcing major new projects on the Gold Coast, with Melbourne-based Villawood announcing it had purchased a 233ha site at Upper Ormeau, where it plans to build 150 rural-residential lots.

Source: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/gold-coast-building-boom-keeps-construction-workers-in-local-jobs-with-two-big-projects-at-burleigh-and-ormeau-soon-to-get-underway/story-fnjc2dm2-1227044703691

Deputy Executive Director for Master Builders Paul Bidwell stated that the industry was showing signs of recovering and growth across Melbourne. Even those regions which were previously battling, have shown improvement in activity. And even more workers are expected to be employed as the new projects that have been undertaken continue to expand. Lewkowicz explains:

 “Although the southeast corner continues to lead the way … even the struggling resource regions of Mackay and Whitsunday and Central Queensland had some good news to report,” Mr Bidwell said.

Mr Lewkowicz said the new Burleigh building was on track to be completed for the start of school next year.

He said the number of people working on the project would increase as it progressed.

Source: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/gold-coast-building-boom-keeps-construction-workers-in-local-jobs-with-two-big-projects-at-burleigh-and-ormeau-soon-to-get-underway/story-fnjc2dm2-1227044703691

While local work for construction workers is good news because workers can spend time at home with their families rather than having to spend long hours travelling or living away from home, for those who aren’t so lucky to find work near home, the good news is that with the new nationally recognised white card, workers can seek work anywhere in the nation, in any state or territory.


Investing in your Employees Mental Health

Employers should never underestimate the value of investing in their employees’ health and safety. Many companies recognise the importance of physical health and safety but neglect workers mental health and wellbeing. Now there is a new landmark campaign that aims to tackle this issue.

The campaign launched by Beyondblue aims to make workplaces more mentally healthy by encouraging employers to be more proactive in tackling mental health issues.

A recent PWC report indicated that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in an effective workplace mental health strategy. In other words investing in worker’s mental health will translate into a financial return for those companies wise enough to do so.

The campaign by Beyondblue has been launched in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.

The following excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au explains more:

beyondblue.jpeg.pagespeed.ce.zp_Im9m_imChairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said the report provides a compelling case for businesses to back a campaign called Heads Up which will give businesses practical advice on the importance  of mental health in workplaces.

“This report shows that employers have a responsibility not only to their workers, but also to their businesses’ profitability, to tackle these conditions at work. Heads Up will provide them with a tailor-made Action Plan to do this and helps ensure that Australia’s 11.5 million workers receive the support they need to be mentally healthy and productive,” he said.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/campaign-promote-mental-health-workplaces-launched/

Later on this year the campaign will also introduce an Action Plan that will facilitate a more customised mental health plan for each workplace, because after all each work site is different and presents its own risks and mental health threats. The post on SafetyCulture.com.au goes on to explain:

In June, an Action Plan will be introduced on Heads Up website to allow businesses to create tailor-made mental health plans to implement in their workplaces to ensure they are progressing towards workplaces that are as mentally healthy as possible.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/campaign-promote-mental-health-workplaces-launched/

Sadly mental health issues are commonly misunderstood and are an often ignored aspect of worker wellbeing, hopefully this campaign will go a long way in enlightening employers on the importance of addressing mental health issues by also highlighting the financial benefits for them of doing so, after all most companies are driven purely by profit and worker safety and wellbeing takes a back seat to profits.

Mentally healthy workplaces deliver higher productivity levels, improve workforce participation and increase social inclusion in addition to improving the company’s bottom line. Seldom do we consider the consequences of ill mental health on individuals, the family unit, the business, communities and the economy, despite the fact that these consequences are far reaching and profound, obviously warranting greater attention, especially from employers and co-workers, let’s hope this campaign will help in changing this relaxed attitude toward worker mental health.

Equally important as worker mental health is physical health and wellbeing. Much of a worker’s physical wellbeing is dependent upon their own actions but it is also affected by the actions of other workers in site. It is for this reason that general construction safety training is such a crucial requirement.


Construction Workers Face Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing

Part of the Victorian government’s crackdown on the construction industry includes the mandatory drug and alcohol testing of construction workers involved in government funded projects.

While the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the industry’s leading union has condemned the announcement, the government has cited widespread drug and alcohol use on construction sites as its motivation, claiming that they are trying to improve safety on building sites, which they say is being compromised by drunk and drugged workers.

According to a report by the Herald Sun, construction workers involved in work on all new government funded projects will have to face random drug and alcohol testing.

Any company wishing to bid on government funded projects will now have to first commit to implementing appropriate security measures including having a comprehensive strategy in place for the random drug and alcohol testing of workers.

The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said in an interview with the Herald Sun that the move was aimed at boosting safety in workplaces. He said there have been reports of drug and alcohol taking on construction sites and the government was targeting this dangerous behaviour which he said is a serious risk to the safety of their innocent co-workers.

The following excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au explains further:

 “Reports of illicit drug use and distribution on Victorian construction sites are widespread,” said Dr Napthine in an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun.

“The presence of intoxicated and drug-affected workers on building sites presents a real and serious risk to the safety of hard-working Victorians.”

Dr Napthine said that companies must have “comprehensive drug and alcohol screening measures” before they can be eligible for Victorian Government construction biddings.

“The Coalition Government takes workplace safety seriously, which is why we are moving to complement the already good work of the Victorian WorkCover Authority,” said Dr Napthine.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/

Apparently the changes to construction guidelines will be prepared by the Industrial Relations Minister, Robert Clark who will head the team.

Companies who plan on bidding for government contracts will have to start introducing the mandatory testing by as soon as the middle of this year and will have to show that they have a comprehensive plan for doing so in place.

The CFMEU has been openly critical of the announcement which they say is unnecessary because there isn’t any widespread use of alcohol or drugs on construction sites. The government however doesn’t see why the new measure would be met with apprehension when it is already the case on many privately funded construction sites. The government claims they are simply trying to improve the safety of workers on construction sites.




Construction Safety News: Canberra worksite closed

Yet another construction site has closed because of safety concerns. This time a large construction site belonging to the Empire Building Group in Wright on Canberra’s west was shut down because of a lack of safety and basic provisions as discovered by inspectors who visited the site after several worker complaints.

According to Mark McCabe, ACT Work Safety Commissioner who visited the site on Monday, they received complaints that the site was not up to scratch when it came to safety late last week but the company closed the site before inspectors could visit the site. On Monday inspectors made the discovery that safety was being sorely neglected on the site, particularly relating to the general oversight of work processes on site and supervision.

The following excerpt from SafetyCulture.com.au explains what happened:

BH “When we went out to the site, there was no clear company or group that was accepting responsibility for supervision which effectively meant it wasn’t being supervised,” he said.

“Now that’s a pretty primary requirement for any site, that alone was enough for us to shut down the site.”

According to Mr McCabe, the site will remain closed until the safety issues are addressed.

He adds that safety concerns have been raised on numerous occasions.

“We have been out 16 times in the last two years to sites being managed by this company and on two other occasions we’ve had to shut the whole site down.”

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/safety-concerns-prompt-construction-site-closure/

Perhaps even more than the lack of supervision and disregard for worker safety was the fact that this was not the first time that this site had to be shut down because of safety concerns. According to McCabe there had been previous complaints about the safety on the site and Work Safety authorities had to visit the site 16 times in a timeframe of just 2 years.

Other employers can learn from the bad example set by this company if they want to avoid similar consequences. Shut downs are not only inconvenient but also costly. Companies that fail to recognise hazards and address safety on work sites can expect to have more incidents taking place, more workers being injured, more properties being damaged and work set back as well as the possibility of receiving costly and often crippling fines from authorities.

It was also reported that the employers responsible for this work site failed to provide workers with adequate induction training. In Australia authorities place a lot of emphasis on occupational health and safety training, particularly in high risk industries such as construction. That means that everyone who begins work on a construction site, even experienced workers (as well as apprentice and new workers) must complete general construction induction training and receive a white card as proof of doing so, as well as complete site specific induction training.

While workers have a responsibility to ensure they complete white card training, employers must ensure that workers are provided with site specific induction training to ensure that they are educated on safety issues that relate specifically to the work site, something that the company in the incident above failed to provide.

Click here to get your White Card now


Construction News: Bomb Threat Stops Work on Sydney Site

Safety of construction workers has once again come under the spotlight as a bomb threat stops work on a Barangaroo construction site in Sydney.

Apparently the bomb threat was communicated to the office of the Construction union, threatening the work site in Barangaroo.

The threat caused disruptions to the entire city and an adjacent large area of the city was also shut down during the scare. The following excerpt from an article on Abc.net.au explains:

5543464-3x2-700x467Police and the developer Lend Lease were notified and the construction site was shut down at around 10:00am, with hundreds of workers evacuated.

At least six city blocks surrounding the area were cordoned off by police, causing traffic disruptions across the CBD.

Streets were reopened just after midday, and workers are now being allowed back into the site.

Police and the CFMEU are expected to make comment about the incident later today.

The site is currently under redevelopment and once finished will include a hotel complex and casino run by billionaire James Packer.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-23/barangaroo-worksite-evacuated-amid-security-scare/5543112

Police are apparently investigating the incident which caused such mass delays across the city, so we will have to wait to see how the investigation unfolds.

The incident comes at a time when the health and safety of construction workers has become a crucial aspect of operations for construction firms, influencing not only the day to day functions of construction sites but also affecting company productivity and profits. Delays such as this one caused by bomb threats and other evacuations can cost millions and cripple smaller construction firms.

Construction employers are therefore paying more and more attention to safety and hiring workers who already have some safety knowledge under their belts. Workers need to ensure that they are equipped mentally to handle work on a hazard ridden construction site and in order to do this they must be trained on general construction safety.

Some of the hazards presented by construction sites that require training in order to overcome include: scaffolding, work from heights, power tool use, heavy machinery and equipment use, trenches and excavations etc.

The Australian government has mandated that this training be completed by all workers entering the construction sector in the form of The White Card.

Every worker should be in possession of the White Card Training Course to certify that they are qualified to work on a site.  Each construction worker is ultimately responsible for his own safety but they also have a responsibility to ensure that they do not put the lives of their co-workers at risk.  Therefore no matter the task being undertaken, every construction worker should ensure that he is working safely and according to the safety they have received.

This training course can be undertaken online and once completed your White Card is mailed to you, so the hassle, effort and cost on your part is minimal.


Construction News: 11 Dead in Building Collapse in Southern India

Yet another tragic building collapse has taken place in India’s southern city of Chennai, this time claiming the lives of at least 11 people.

The collapse which took place on Saturday is thought to have been the result of heavy rains which ravaged the area however shoddy building standards are known to prevail in the developing country.

Researchers were still searching for survivors on Monday after the 11 storey high residential block collapsed, killing at least 11 people and trapping dozens more.

According to media reports the building was still under construction. Shockingly this is the second building collapse to have occurred in a period of one day.

Another building collapse took place in the country’s capital city of New Delhi just a little earlier in the day. That accident resulted in the death of 11 people including 5 children.

The following excerpt from an article on Smh.com.au explains further:

1404044790217.jpg-620x349The partly-built tower, about 20 kilometres from Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, crushed mostly labourers at the site who had gone inside it to shelter from the rain.

Senior police officer Karuna Sagar told AFP that 11 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage as of Sunday afternoon while 20 people had been rescued and were being treated in hospital.

He said police had detained several people for questioning, including the builder and construction engineers.

Sagar said witnesses had described hearing a loud bang, with the building collapsing after around 50 workers went inside it to seek shelter.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/at-least-11-killed-dozens-feared-trapped-in-building-collapse-near-chennai-india-20140629-zsqax.html#ixzz362I5PgQy

Police fear that dozens more people may still be trapped in the rubble. Scores of people joined in the rescue efforts, sifting through debris of twisted steel, mangled scaffolding and crushed concrete armed mostly with shovels, searching for survivors.

In the last year apparently at least 100 people have been killed in building collapses in the country where cutting corners has been blamed for shoddy, compromised construction work.

Those in charge of the search operations expected it to take days to find all those trapped in the rubble. Disaster management official leading the search, S.P.Selvan was quoted as saying:

“There is no clarity on the number of people trapped,” S. P. Selvan, a senior officer from the National Disaster Response Force, told reporters in Chennai, according to the Press Trust of India.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/at-least-11-killed-dozens-feared-trapped-in-building-collapse-near-chennai-india-20140629-zsqax.html#ixzz362I5PgQy

Partly constructed buildings are particularly susceptible to collapses caused by heavy rains, even here in Oz we have seen structures collapse because of heavy rain and other adverse weather conditions such as gale force winds. However India has been criticised for their lax regulations and the leniency on building contractors who cut costs in order to provide housing for the country’s growing population at the lowest possible price. It is common for contractors throughout the country to source substandard materials and even add unauthorised extra floors to accommodate more people. The Smh.com.au article goes on to explain:

In September last year more than 50 people were crushed to death when a five-storey building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai on the west coast.

“We will look into all aspects of planning permission and quality of construction, the structural aspect and the soil condition and see what’s wrong,” Sagar told the NDTV television station.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram announced compensation of 200,000 rupees ($3000) for the families of the dead and 50,000 rupees for those injured.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/at-least-11-killed-dozens-feared-trapped-in-building-collapse-near-chennai-india-20140629-zsqax.html#ixzz362I5PgQy

Obtain a White Card online here


Basic Responsibilities of a Construction Worker

Although we commonly discuss the responsibilities of employers and principal contractors in the construction industry, it is also important that employees remember that they too have a responsibility to ensure safety.

In many respects workers have more to lose than employers because they are the ones on the ground being directly exposed to the risks, it is their lives on the line which is why safety should be an especially relevant topic to workers, whereas employers most often only suffer financial losses.

No one knows better the risks involved in construction work than workers do, obviously employers have most of the control of the site and implementing measures to control hazards but workers too have a key role to play.

The best thing any construction worker or prospective construction worker can do for themselves is complete the online White Card course. It is compulsory that workers carrying out any construction work anywhere in Oz have successfully completed a recognised general construction induction training course prior to beginning work on a construction site. The most convenient and simple way of attaining this qualification is completing the course online with a registered training provider (Visit our homepage for more on the online White Card). A worker must be able to provide their general construction induction training card or certificate upon request, proving that they have completed their training and can work on a construction site in Oz.

It is also the responsibility of workers to do everything necessary to protect themselves and their co-workers when conducting their work. Workers need to take reasonable care for their own health and safety as well as take reasonable care for the health and safety of others.

Workers also need to comply with any reasonable instruction by the person conducting a business or undertaking. When given site specific training and instruction from management, supervisors, principal contractors etc. employees have a responsibility to comply with these instructions.

For example workers on the construction site are required by the law to wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) as instructed and supplied by their employer. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action. In other words it is mandatory that workers cooperate with any reasonable policies and procedures of the company.

If the worker is carrying out high risk construction work they must be familiar and comply with the relevant safe work method statement.

Workers, ultimately it is in your best interest to abide by the rules of the site and your construction safety training because your health and safety depends on it. But in addition to keeping yourself safe and healthy, you have a responsibility to your co-workers as well. Because a construction site is usually a confined space within which a number of hazardous activities are taking place at any given time, the actions of one tradesperson can have dire consequences for others on site. The actions of one worker can have a ripple effect and be detrimental to other workers.

Obtain a White Card online here


Awareness During Construction Material and Goods Deliveries

One of the aspects of construction site safety that sometimes goes unnoticed and unattended to is traffic management of deliveries.

On a larger site there can be more than one or even a few trucks delivering goods, materials, equipment etc. to a site at any given time and it is important that these deliveries are managed in order to avoid accidents involving trucks, pedestrians, other construction vehicles and moving equipment.

The most common form of injury for truck drivers doing deliveries surprisingly doesn’t occur when they are in the truck but actually when they get out of the vehicle, especially because a lot of the time these truck drivers aren’t construction workers, aren’t trained on construction site safety and so don’t know what to look out for.

Also an alarmingly high number of accidents involving truck drivers occur when they are offloading their vehicles. Whether delivering to construction sites or not, drivers are at risk, read what happened to one truck driver in Perth, according to a post on SafetyCulture.com.au

A truck driver, delivering groceries, had his legs crushed when a car pinned him to the rear of his truck in a collision.

At the time of the incident the 31-year-old driver was standing at the back of his truck when he was hit at about 7.15 pm yesterday. He received serious injuries to his legs and was transported to the Royal Perth Hospital.

The driver of the car, a 51-year-old woman was unharmed in the accident.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/08/truck-driver-injured-while-delivering-groceries/

The actions that are most risky when it comes to trucks making deliveries on construction sites is reversing, loading, unloading and pedestrian movement around the truck’s loading/ off-loading area.

It is vital that employers plan traffic and pedestrian movement on construction sites and keep pedestrians and trucks separated as much as possible.

By law this is another hazard presented by construction work which employers are required to first identify and then assess the risks associated. Employers must then control these risks by:

  • Eliminating them – for example if a hazard is identified such as reversing trucks, try to eliminate the need for trucks to reverse at all, perhaps by redesigning the route.
  • Substituting it with something less hazardous – for example if a larger truck is deemed to be a risk, substitute it with something smaller which would pose less risk.
  • Isolating the hazard – for examples keeping vehicles away from pedestrians or vice versa
  • Minimising risks – using engineering controls to erect pedestrian barriers to separate trucks and people, lowering trucks speed limiters, having separate entrances for trucks and people.
  • Applying administrative controls – for example educating workers and driver, providing training, supervision, restricted pedestrian access to certain areas, banning reversing during certain times etc.

For  more about Construction safety, click here.



Fast And Easy Ways To Get Your White Card

Fast and Easy Ways To Get Your White Card

Occupation injuries and hazards at construction sites are a serious and common concern these days. Construction induction training helps to create a safe worksite and reduce the risk of work related injuries.

A white card is issued only after the completing the accredited course on occupational health and safety (OH & S). White Card (CPCCOHS1001A) courses are for working safely in construction industries. The course is designed to teach you about how to avoid hazards while working on construction sites. Once you complete the course, you need to complete an assessment and after passing the assessment you are provided a valid licence, in the form of a credit card sized White Card.

White Card Online Express now Available!

Here is some more detailed information about an easy and convenient way to get you White Card: Doing it online!

It is now possible to complete your express White Card course online, making it easier than ever to gain access to the opportunities available in the growing construction industry.

Because the White Card is nationally recognized once you have obtained your accreditation, you can work across borders or seek work on a building site anywhere in Australia without the hassle of repeating the course.

Undoubtedly online education has superseded other forms of formal education in terms of popularity over the past few years and this is for a number of good reasons, mostly relating to convenience, ease, cost and practicality.

Taking the White Card Course online offers a number of other benefits that conventional training providers just can’t provide without compromising on quality education. Our course exceeds most others on quality as well because it has been designed in conjunction with the most experienced professionals and experts in the industry.

Factors to Consider about White Card Training Online

1. When you complete your training through White Card Online Express, you aren’t locked into a specific training location, so whether students live in a rural community or big city, all that’s needed is a computer, internet connection, telephone and printer to complete the course.

Often young people from rural areas are forced to leave their homes in order to complete training, with our online course this is not an issue.

2. One of the most attractive factors of the White Card Online Express course is that its flexible. Students are able to complete the course from their home, office, public library etc. This makes it easy to fit into any schedule without adding the inconvenience and cost of traveling to a training institution. Due to this benefit, whether you are a school leaver or mature student with a full time job you can complete the course without having to alter your regular regime.

3. Another undeniable benefit of online training in general as well as our course is that it can be accessed anywhere at any time, 24 hours a day. Students can fit in the training whenever they have free time and our convenient course picks up wherever you last left off allowing you to complete the course as it suits you… broken up over pieces of time or in one sitting – it’s up to you, you aren’t confined to office hours to complete the course content.

4. Students who can’t afford tertiary education will be pleased to note that our online course costs just $38.90 including the delivery of your White Card in the mail. The financial savings we experience from offering our course online rather than in a bricks and mortar environment means that we can transfer these savings to our students through lower registration fees. It would be impossible to find a training provider who offers the quality of training provided by White Card Online Express at the price we do.

5. Our White Card course allows students to gain access to a wealth of knowledge obtained over decades by experts in the health and safety industry. The course was developed using the expertise of professionals who have been at the top of their game for a number of years. Our students can rest assured knowing they are receiving the best quality training, despite the low cost of the course.

6. The technology utilised by White Card Online Express is advanced and makes the course convenient and dynamic. Students that have completed our course say that one of the best aspects of the course is that it engages them which prevents boredom and allows them to retain the information better.

7. The White Card Online Express course facilitates a more learner centred approach rather than forcing learners to adapt to the teaching style of the person administering the course. Everyone has their own way of learning, our simple and dynamic system ensures that everyone, regardless of their computer skills or IQ is able to comprehend and successfully complete the course. Students are able to repeat the assessments as many times as necessary to understand and pass. This basically results in better retention of information and better learning which also equates to value for money.

8. Students that complete the course with us have access to one of our trainers and can call our Brisbane based call center if necessary during office hours– our agents are happy to assist you.

How Does The White Card Online Express Course Work?

Once you register online via White Card Online Express and make payment (instructions appear on our site) the course content is delivered online and the assessments are completed online for each section. The topics include what the law says about workplace health and safety, your rights and responsibilities on site, the major hazards associated with construction work in general and how to deal with them effectively.

Most people take only 3 to 4 hours to complete the online course content. Others choose to complete the course over smaller chunks of time over a period of time. Students can choose to register and complete the course anytime, night or day.

Once you have successfully completed all the online assessments, you will have to complete a telephone based verbal assessment with one of our industry qualified assessors as part of a government requirement. You also will require a printer to print out your Statement of attainment.

On completion of the course your White Card, a small credit card sized item, will be mailed to you within a few days. This must be retained as proof that you are accredited to work on a construction site in Australia.

Check out the course right here!


APS launches new website promoting mental health and wellbeing at Work

Help for managers, supervisors and employers who are grappling with staff mental health issues have now been provided with some aid on behalf of The Australian Public Service.

Interestingly a recent report by Safe Work Australia confirmed the suspicions of many, that stress is the biggest negative impact on workers in Oz and mental health is becoming an increasing problem in workplaces.

Despite this fact an aspect of occupational health and safety that is commonly ignored is mental health of workers, that is why Safe Work Australia conducted a report dedicated solely to work-related mental stress.

As Safe Work Australia explained work-related mental stress has become a major concern in workplaces across Oz, this is evident by the increasing costs associated with time off work such as claims by workers which are costing the economy millions. So it is a welcomed guide that has been provided by the APS to assist employers to promote mental health and wellbeing in workplaces.

The guide is a combined effort between Comcare and the APS and attempts to encourage a culture of positivity towards mental health in the workplace. Often employers and co-workers aren’t equipped to handle mental health issues about workers and that is where this guide aims to help.

According to the APS, healthy workplaces deliver greater productivity, improve workforce participation and increase social inclusion. It’s important to get this right because the consequences of ill health on individuals, their families, communities and the economy are profound.

The guide follows topics such as creating a respectful workplace, talking about mental health at work, managing risks to prevent harm, recognising when to step in with help and supporting workers returning to work.

This is what the APS had to say about the guide on its website,

The guide is a key initiative of the Australian Public Service Commission’s As One—APS Disability Employment Strategy.

This guide, Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work, is a key initiative of As One—APS Disability Employment Strategy. The guide aims to empower managers and employees to work together to build inclusive workplace cultures and effective systems for promoting mental health in the Australian Public Service (APS).

We will all be touched by mental ill health at some stage in our lives and some of us live with a mental health condition. Leaders and managers must build their levels of confidence around mental health issues to better include people with mental ill health in our teams, and to enable appropriate support of employees during illness and recovery.

The guidance in Working Together is of two types—technical (improved processes and procedures, including early intervention) and cultural (attitudinal and behavioural changes, such as understanding and connecting with each other). The former we can implement relatively quickly, but the latter may take time. The success of the guide relies on its adoption. This will require perseverance, courage, commitment and leadership.

Read more: http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/mental-health

According to the APS, healthy workplaces deliver greater productivity, improve workforce participation and increase social inclusion. It’s important to get this right because the consequences of ill health on individuals, their families, communities and the economy are profound.




ACT Work Safety Blitz begins as High serious Accident Rate Revealed

According to ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe the state’s serious accident rate put it at the top of the country’s most dangerous construction jurisdictions, if new figures are anything to go by.

According to the figures from Safe Work Australia which haven’t been officially published as yet, the ACT has seen a 17 per cent increase in serious accidents on construction sites between 2011-2012. The ACT recorded 30.5 serious injury accidents (those that required a worker’s compensation claim and a week or more off work) for every 1000 workers in the same period, whereas the previous year the number was just 24.5, as compared with the national average which is 18.7.

The fact that the ACT tops the most dangerous construction site jurisdictions in the country explains the new safety blitz which inspectors will be embarking on from this week. This week will see the beginning of a 3 week blitz targeting residential construction across Canberra.

Workers and contractors should be aware that inspectors will be issuing on-the-spot fines of up to $3600. Inspectors will look at falls from heights, signage, fencing, amenities, housekeeping, scaffolding, electrical test and tagging, white cards and personal protective equipment.

This article from CanberraTimes.com.au explains more about the ACT’s problematic serious injury rate on construction sites, which also explains the need for blitzes such as the one beginning this week,

web13IncidenceRatesGraph_Page1-620x349When the accident rate is converted to a rate of actual injuries, 363 construction workers were seriously injured in the territory in 2011-12 compared with 321 the year before.

The new figures are due to be published by Safe Work Australia in their ”Comparative Performance Monitoring Report” in October, which provides the most comprehensive industry by industry workers’ compensation claim comparisons across the states and territories.

As the report has not been published yet, the ACT figures are not able to be compared with the other states or territories.

Tasmania had been slightly ahead of the ACT in 2010-11 for injuries requiring a week or more off work, but Mr McCabe said he could not imagine the ACT would not eclipse Tasmania with a 17 per cent increase.

When accidents requiring 12 weeks or more off work are tallied, the ACT already leads the nation with 9.5 accidents for every 1000 workers in 2010-11. This is well above Tasmania, on 5.6 accidents, with the national average 5.2.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/safety-cloud-on-act-worksites-20130812-2rsq4.html#ixzz2cmzoy0I8

It is surprising that the ACT’s construction sector has experienced so many serious injuries in the last year, despite remaining free of fatalities for the past 12 months.

There have been some serious breaches of safety recorded by authorities, such as 2 worksites which were shut down just last month because of dangerous scaffolding as well as another case where a metal pipe was dropped from a scaffold, piercing an electric cable and nearly hitting into a gas pipe. These are the types of incidents leading to such a high serious injury rate which needs to be addressed by the construction industry in the state.

Site controllers/ Principal contractors in Canberra (and throughout the state) need to review the safety measures and procedures on their sites to ensure that they are continually effective in ensuring the safety of workers. They also need to ensure that all their workers are adequately trained and supervised to ensure site safety and avoid getting on-the-spot fines and being prosecuted by work safety authorities.


200 Protest Against Workplace Bullying

Following a recent protest which involved 200 workers from a distribution centre belonging to the transport giant Linfox, I have decided to take a closer look into bullying in the workplace, what it constitutes and the psychological effects on the victim.

We recently read about the protest in Melbourne’s western suburbs involving disgruntled workers who were fed up with the unresolved bullying and harassment being allowed on the worksite.

Workers used their break time to protest about the bullying they were subjected to by managers at the warehouse.

One female worker who worked as a casual agency employee said that she had been unfairly fired after complaining of sexual harassment from a colleague. She said that she had been harassed for five months and after she had confronted her colleague over his behaviour she was no longer called in to work at the distribution centre.

Despite these accusations the company involved, Linfox claimed that there were no such practices taking place on the job site and that the unions were exploiting the opportunity to gain more supporters.

But bullying and harassment are more serious than many managers and employers may realise and although many companies care more about productivity than they do workers wellbeing, workers in a happy working environment have proven to be more productive and financially profitable for the company. Conversely unhappy and mentally affected workers are less productive and costly to the company.

While bullying can sometimes trigger mild annoyance, in some cases it can trigger severe psychological consequences which can affect a person’s entire life. the negative health effects of workplace bullying linger on well after the bullying has ceased. In some extreme cases bullying and harassment has in the past led to suicide.

It has been proven that workers who are the victim of bullying suffer higher level of anxiety than others do.

I found an interesting post on http://www.psychology.org.au/ where the research of a Sydney based clinical psychologist was discussed. Workplace bullying specialist Keryl Egan has formulated three workplace bully profiles which is discussed in the post and can be useful in dealing with bullying behaviour in your workplace :

“…the accidental bully, the narcissistic bully, and the serial bully. Egan describes the accidental bully as emotionally blunt, aggressive and demanding. “This person is task orientated and just wants to get things done, tends to panic when things are not getting done, and goes into a rage about it. This person is basically decent, they don’t really think about the impact of what’s happened or what they have done. They are responding to stress a lot of the time.” Importantly, Egan believes this type of bully can be trained or coached out of the bullying behaviour.

The second profile formulated by Egan is the narcissistic bully, who is grandiose and has fantasies of breath-taking achievement. “This type of bully feels they deserve power and position. They can fly into rages whenever reality confronts them. This person is very destructive and manipulative, they don’t set out in a callous way to annihilate any other person – it’s purely an expression of their superiority.”

Finally, Egan’s third profile is that of the serial bully “who has a more sociopathic or psychopathic personality. This type of bully is intentional, systematic, and organised and the bullying is often relentless. They usually get things done in terms of self interest, not in the interest of the company.” Egan’s serial bully employs subtle techniques that are difficult to detect or prove and training or coaching is always unsuccessful”

Source: http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/inpsych/workplace_bullying/



ACT Construction Workers years of Asbestos Exposure

Yet another asbestos related scandal has hit the news, this time relating to Mr Fluffy Asbestos used extensively in housing in the seventies.

According to reports a former electrician who worked in Canberra in the residential construction sector in the 1970s has raised concerns that hundreds of tradies may have been unexpectedly and unknowingly exposed to asbestos from this product (Mr Fluffy). The ACT CFMEU is afraid that this product may still present a threat to workers who enter homes and commercial buildings today. They have demanded an audit to determine the extent of the contamination and the risk to current workers.

This article from CanberraTimes.com.au explains:

And the ACT CFMEU says asbestos -including the ”fairy floss” amosite insulation – was a daily concern for workers in the ACT going into houses and commercial buildings.

Secretary Dean Hall has called for an audit to be undertaken on all commercial premises built before 2003 to confirm that the required asbestos management plan has been completed.

The Canberra Times revealed on Thursday that while the ACT government was spending $2 million deconstructing a home in Downer, there had been no investigation into the commercial buildings that could still contain the dangerous substance. Non-residential buildings were not surveyed along with houses built before 1980 under the loose-fill asbestos removal program carried out by the Commonwealth then ACT governments.

Mr Hall said while experienced builders and tradespeople knew about the general risk of asbestos, the union was finding that younger workers, commonly apprentices, were not aware of the dangers.

But he said the risk was potentially in every building.

”On a daily basis we have reports of people who have inadvertently exposed asbestos,” he said.

Read more at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/tradies-unaware-for-years-of-asbestos-danger-20130725-2qnoo.html

The CFMEU has called for an audit to be conducted on buildings erected after 2003, which is the year that the deadly substance was banned in Australia. Amosite asbestos is more commonly referred to as “brown” asbestos and sometimes “grey” asbestos. This form of asbestos was found and is mined in South Africa and is considered to be one of the more hazardous forms of the material, second only to “blue” asbestos.

According to a veteran of the construction industry, Sydney resident Arthur Carruthers, it was common for tradies to crawl into roof spaces and walk through loose infill installation in many homes in Sydney without taking any precautions against this hazard.

He also recalls removing roof tiles to allow light to enter the work area where millions of fibres could be seen in the light shaft according to Carruthers. According to Carruthers it was common knowledge that insulation was composed of asbestos although they weren’t fully aware of the risks they were placing themselves in.

Only in the early eighties was the use of amosite asbestos banned in Oz and only 8 years later did the Commonwealth conduct its asbestos survey in ACT.


Picture of Amosite Asbestos shows how the fibres look, thin threads of deadly fibres.

SOURCE: http://www.accident-compensation-people-uk.co.uk/Amosite.htm



Addressing the Risks Associated with Falling Objects on Construction Sites

One of the most uncontrollable and unpredictable risks on a construction site is presented by falling objects. There are many instances where objects can fall or fly off a construction site and injure a worker or passer-by. An accident which took place in The United States recently in Kentucky is an example of how serious these types of incidents can be.

A construction worker was hit by a piece of wood which resulted in him being rushed to hospital for treatment. Reports say the man received “critical” injuries.

The man was hit by a piece of plywood which fell about 5 stories. Having taken place on a busy university campus, this incident could have resulted in more injuries. The following excerpt from a post on Kentucky.com explains:

1kJfF9.AuSt.79A man was rushed Wednesday to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital with critical injuries after he was struck by plywood that fell off the roof of a building under construction on campus, UK police chief Joe Monroe said.

The construction worker was helping to load plywood while standing on the ground when he was hit by a piece of the wood that flew off the Haggin Hall roof, Monroe said. The man, whose name was not available, is 24, university spokesman Carl Nathe said.

It’s unclear what the worker was loading plywood onto while standing in the courtyard of the building, Nathe said. The accident occurred about 11:50 a.m.

The plywood fell about five stories from a dormitory that has been under construction for about a year, Nathe said. The building is near William T. Young Library.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/02/19/3097333/worker-critically-injured.html#storylink=cpy

A common source of injury and death by falling objects is when loads that are being lifted are not properly secured and they slip or break loose, plummeting to the ground, normally at a speed, injuring, crushing or killing a worker/workers beneath.

To prevent objects from falling freely from one level to another when they are being stored a secure physical barrier must be installed. The hazard of falling objects can be managed and controlled so that workers are not debilitated or even killed by an injury by taking care at each stage of construction that hazards are being managed.

Hazards such as falling objects are just one of the many possible risks that construction work presents. In order to educate workers about all the others, employers must ensure that workers are properly trained beginning with general construction induction training.

Potential employees in the construction industry can complete the White Card course which is mandatory general construction induction training, online with minimal interruption to their regular schedules, from the comfort of their own home or office. As long as you have a computer, an internet connection and a printer, you can register for the online White Card course.

In addition to satisfying a mandatory federal requirement, it will also ensure that workers are more knowledgeable about the risks and controls associated with construction hazards.


The benefits of doing White Card training online

White Card Online Express Delivers First Class Construction Safety Training Online

It is now possible to complete your White Card course online, making it easier than ever to gain access to the opportunities available in the growing construction industry.clear constructoin site (Small)

Also because the White Card is nationally recognised once you have obtained your accreditation, you can work across borders or seek work on a building site anywhere in Oz without the hassle of redoing the course.

Undoubtedly online education has surpassed other forms of formal education in popularity over the past decade and this is for a number of reasons, mostly relating to convenience, ease, cost and practicality.

Taking the White Card Online Express Course offers a number of other benefits that convention training providers cannot provide without compromising on quality education. In fact our course surpasses most others on quality as well because it has been designed in conjunction with the most experienced professionals and experts in the industry.

Factors to Consider about White Card training

  1. Students who choose to complete their construction induction training via White Card Online Express don’t have to be confined to a specific location, so whether they live in a rural community or big city, all that’s needed is a computer, internet connection, telephone and printer to complete the course. Often young people from rural areas are forced to leave their homes in order to complete training, with our online course this is not an issue.
  2. One of the most attractive factors of the White Card Online Express course is that it’s flexible. Students are able to complete the course from their home, office, public library etc. This makes it easy to fit into any schedule without adding the inconvenience and cost of travelling to a training institute. Due to this benefit, whether you are a school leaver or mature student with a full time job you can complete the course without having to alter your regular schedule.
  3. Another undeniable benefit of online training in general as well as the White Card Online Express course is that it can be accessed anywhere at any time, 24 hours a day. Students can fit in the training whenever they have spare time and our convenient course picks up wherever you last left off allowing you to complete the course as it suits you- broken up over chunks of time or in one sitting, you aren’t confined to office hours to complete the online training.
  4. The online course costs just $67 including the delivery of your White Card in the mail. The financial savings we experience from offering our course online rather than in a bricks and mortar environment means that we can transfer these savings to our students through lower registration fees. It would be impossible to find a training provider who offers the quality of training provided by White Card Online Express at the price we do.
  5. Our White Card course allows students to gain access to a wealth of knowledge obtained over decades by experts in the health and safety industry. The course was developed using the expertise of professionals who have been at the top of their game for a number of years. Ultimately students get the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry, something that would not be possible if they attended an old fashioned training organisation. Usually the quality of the trainers depends on the funds available. Our students can rest assured knowing they are receiving the best quality training, despite the low cost of the course.
  6. The technology utilised by White Card Online Express is advanced and makes the course convenient and dynamic. We offer students a simple and interactive system which facilitates the highest quality learning. Students that have completed our course say that one of the best aspects of the course is that it engages them which prevents boredom and allows them to retain the information better.
  7. The White Card Online Express course facilitates a more learner centred approach rather than forcing learners to adapt to the teaching style of the person administering the course. Everyone has their own way of learning, our simple and dynamic system ensures that everyone, regardless of their computer skills or IQ is able to comprehend and successfully complete the course. Students are able to repeat the assessments as many times as necessary to understand and pass. This basically results in better retention of information and better learning which also equates to value for money.
  8. Students that complete the course with us have access to one of our trainers and can call our Brisbane based call centre if necessary during office hours – our team are happy to assist you.

How it Works

Once you register online via White Card Online Express and make payment (instructions appear on the  site) the course content is delivered online and the assessments are completed online for each section and then by a short phone call for the verbal assessment. The topics include what the law says about workplace health and safety, your rights and responsibilities on site, the major hazards associated with construction work in general and how to overcome them.

Most people texcavating-hazard-signake only 3 to 4 hours to complete the online training, and much less than this to complete the assessment process.  Others choose to complete the course over smaller chunks of time over a period of time. Students can choose to register and complete the course anytime, night or day.

Once you have successfully completed all the online assessments, you will have to complete a verbal telephone based assessment with one of our assessors as part of a Federal requirement. You will need a printer to print out your certificate of attainment.

On completion of the course, assessment and ID verification requirements, your White Card, a small credit card sized item, will be mailed to you within a few days. This must be retained as proof that you are accredited to work on a construction site in Australia.

Click here to see the course details


Workers on World Cup Stadium Threaten to Strike

The progress of a World Cup Stadium in the Brazilian jungle city of Manaus is under threat as workers intend on going on strike to demand better working conditions and safety. This threat comes after a third death of a construction worker at the stadium.

FIFA fears that a strike would only cause further delays to the completion of the stadium, named Arena da Amazonia , a mere few months before what is supposed to be the start of the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

A union leader was quoted as saying:

“We have to guarantee the workers’ rights and their safety,” union leader Cicero Custodio told Brazilian news media. “Nobody will get in on Monday.”

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/workers-threaten-strike-at-world-cup-stadium-after-construction-death-1.1676969#ixzz2sl4O40kH

Seb Blatter said that Brazil was further behind in their world cup preparations than any other previous host and the venue in southern Brazil is at risk of not being finished in time.

The latest death was that of a 55 year old worker who was disassembling a crane that was used to install the stadium’s roof. He was the third worker to lose his life while working on this project within a year.

Brazil has already missed its December deadline – the date by which it promised that all 12 of its World Cup venues would be finished and with the tournament meant to start June 12th, only 7 have been completed. Six of the completed stadiums were done for the Confederations Cup warm up tournament held last June which means that only one stadium has been completed since then.

According to the stadium’s management, the Arena Da Amazonia was almost complete when the third fatal accident took place.

Authorities are currently investigating the latest incident and public prosecutors said they will halt construction if safety conditions at the site are not adequate as workers threaten to strike.

The following excerpt from an article on CTVNews.ca explains the history of Brazil’s World Cup preparation woes:

The first death in Manaus happened in March, when a man fell from a scaffold and hit his head. In December, another worker died after falling 35 metres while working on the stadium’s roof, prompting a work stoppage of four days as authorities inspected safety conditions. Later that same day, a worker died of a heart attack while paving an area outside the venue.

Seven workers have died at World Cup venues so far. In late November, two workers were killed when a crane collapsed while hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing at the stadium that will host the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo. In 2012, a worker died at the construction site of the stadium in the nation’s capital, Brasilia.

Brazil has been under a spotlight because of its problematic World Cup preparations, with the southern host city of Curitiba still in danger of being dropped because of a delay in stadium construction. The country also is making headlines because of fan violence and turmoil in the

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/workers-threaten-strike-at-world-cup-stadium-after-construction-death-1.1676969#ixzz2sl4O40kH



Worker Sustains Injuries from Avoidable Ladder Fall

An accident which took place on a construction site in Leicester in The United Kingdom was both unfortunate and unnecessary because the incident was totally preventable. A worker was injured when he fell off a ladder on the site, when instead he should have been standing on scaffolding.

Scaffolding would have removed the risk of working from a ladder. It is obvious that either a hazard identification and risk assessment did not take place or it did take place but its findings were ignored. It is important that once employers identify hazards and assess the risk associated with them, these hazards be eliminated if necessary. In this case it was necessary and feasible to remove the hazard of the ladder, and replace it with something less hazardous, in this case the scaffold however this was not done which subsequently led to the injury of the worker.

The incident resulted in the builder being fined after the workman suffered multiple injuries after tumbling 6metres to the ground while repairing a window on the second floor of a building.

Read what happened according to an excerpt from a post on www.ppconstructionsafety.com

ladderguideThe injured man was working from a ladder extended to just below the window. When climbing down the ladder he fell from the ladder to the patio below. He was airlifted to hospital with head injuries, five fractures to his spine and a fractured pelvis and wrist.

Leicester Magistrates were told that the incident happened when the worker was cutting out and replacing the sill and glazing on a small window in the second floor attic gable wall. HSE investigators found a suitable tower scaffold was on site that could have been used to remove the risk of working from a ladder.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/09/04/ladder-fall-caused-life-changing-injuries/

The company was fined and ordered to pay costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation however this does not make up for the fact that the worker has suffered serious pain and suffering as a result of the incident.

Authorities later explained that the worker was so seriously hurt that he had to use a walking frame and was unable to climb stairs for five months. The course of his life has been altered by this and he will never be able to return to his normal job, all this despite the fact that the incident could have been avoided.

What makes this case even worse is that there was suitable equipment on site and the principal contractor who was in control of the work had a responsibility to make sure that it was put in place.

Principal contractors should not assume that they do not need to be concerned about the safety of casual workers on site. Whether workers are permanent, temporary or casual, experienced or apprentice workers, employers have a responsibility to provide them with a safe system of work and safe work environment.

These workers also need to be trained on general construction safety training. Luckily the White Card can be completed conveniently online with minimal expense.

Check out more safety related articles for construction workers


Workers Protest Against Bullying

The transport giant Linfox has had to deal with allegations of bullying within its ranks from hundreds of employees who took to the streets last week.

More than 100 workers employed at a Coles distribution centre, protested during their lunch break last week because of bullying at Truganina. This was the second demonstration in 3 days.

Union delegates from the National Union of Workers (NUW) Michael Manolitsis and Ken Price were stood down indefinitely without pay after speaking to the media.

Mr Manolitsis spoke to the media about the alleged bullying, saying that it was going on for too long. Some of the bullying incidents involved managers throwing people’s lunches in the bin, keys and private property as well as intimidation. Sometimes workers were locked out if they were even 30 seconds late for work.

An article on www.Maribyrnongweekly.com.au explained:

1“Intimidating casuals against each other – you know, if they make a mistake, you can forget about your shift next week.’’

A St Albans worker, who the Weekly has chosen not to identify, said workers were too scared to report injuries. He said he had worked with a broken toe.

Former casual worker and Tarneit resident Penny Palmer said that after another casual worker called her a “f….ing whore,” they both received no more shifts.

“A full-time person came and asked me if I was OK; he just said that he reported it because that person shouldn’t have spoken to me like that. Then the next day, no work. And the agency didn’t know what happened.”

Linfox group communications manager Gary Max said two workers were stood down for conducting unauthorised interviews with the media.

Read more at: http://www.maribyrnongweekly.com.au/story/1791737/anti-bullying-protest-leads-to-delegates-dismissal/

Linfox spokesman said the union had used the site to represent issues to the media. He said that only 200 of the 700 people employed at the site were complaining about bullying and these people were all represented by the NUW. He believes that the protests had less to do with bullying and more to do with a targeted campaign by the NUW to build up its membership because most of the others on the site are affiliated with the Transport Workers Union.

But the NUW means business, now according to an alert on the NUW website, Coles workers are standing behind the allegations of their colleagues at Linfox. Workers from the Coles Somerton and Coles Polar Fresh warehouses have signed a petition calling on management at the Linfox Cole warehouse to end bullying at that site.

All three warehouses work for Coles and the workers at the three sheds are sticking together to support Linfox Coles workers who are allegedly subjected to bullying, for over a year.

The workers want Linfox to bring an end to bullying, harassment, intimidation and sexual harassment on the site. The post on the union’s website goes on to explain:

The petition demands Linfox Coles management to re-instate the two delegates it stood down for speaking publicly about the bullying and to openly investigate and take action against bullying.

It also calls on Linfox Coles to reinstate Penny Palmer, a worker who was sacked after she was sexually bullied at work.


Remember:  Construction site safety starts with getting a White Card – you can get yours from www.whitecardonline.com.au


Worker Falls to His Death – Company Fined $65,000

Yet another worker has died from a fall sustained on a construction site, this time the incident took place on a site near Esperance and resulted in a fine of $65,000 for the company responsible.

The incident which took place in March 2011, happened when 5 workers were tasked with constructing a steel shed at a Farm in Salmon Gums.

The workers applied wall cladding and roof sheeting to the structure and also fitted the skylights and tacked them in place temporarily with small screws. While working on the roof one of the workers stepped onto a polycarbonate sheet which gave way, causing him to fall 7 meters to the ground. There was no fall protection in place and the worker did not survive the fall.

This excerpt from a post on SafetyCulture.com.au explains further:

roofAccording to investigations, the company began constructing a steel shed at Wye Farm in Salmon Gums in March 2011. Steel frame of the shed was erected in May and the wall cladding and roof sheeting was installed. Five workers were tasked to do the job.

On May 31, the roof sheets and skylights were put into place and tacked down with small screws to temporarily hold them. Workers proceeded to permanently fix the sheets in place after lunch.

One of the workers had to cross the roof to retrieve the screws for the polycarbonate skylights from the other side of the roof. He stepped from a zincalume sheet over the ridge and onto a polycarbonate sheet but the sheet gave way and he fell around seven metres to the ground and died.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/10/company-pleaded-guilty-over-fall-death/

What makes this incident so troubling is that there was no safety mesh installed under the roof and no edge protection was installed. The workers also did not have access to harnesses. WorkSafe WA Commissioner, Lex McCulloch conveyed his disappointment over the incident especially because employers are still neglecting to protect their workers from fall injuries despite it being totally preventable.

McCulloch explained that while fall protection was neither difficult nor expensive to implement, employers were still failing to do so. The post went on to detail more of Mr McCulloch’s statement:

“In this case, there was no mesh, no edge protection and no harnesses – it really was just a tragedy waiting to happen.

“After the incident, the company bought two rolls of safety mesh that cost $80 a roll, along with two roofer’s kits containing static lines and harnesses for $450.00 each.

“This is not a huge outlay to prevent a fall, and unfortunately it was made too late for the worker who lost his life on this job.

“Falls are a significant cause of workplace death, and 17 Western Australian workers have died as a result of falls in the last four years.  Many others have been seriously and permanently injured as a result of preventable falls.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/10/company-pleaded-guilty-over-fall-death/

The Commissioner went on to explain that a Code of Practice on fall prevention has existed in the state for more than 20 years and the code that currently exists is comprehensive and provides employers with information on the identification of the most common fall hazards. Employers have been urged once again to ensure that safe systems of work are implemented especially where there is a risk for a worker to fall from a height.



Video demonstrates how Crane Accidents Happen

The reason why cranes can lift such heavy loads without toppling over is because tower cranes use counterweights or the weight of the crane itself to balance the load, mobile cranes are designed so that their base s larger moving the pivot point to increase the mechanical advantage of the crane’s weight.

Unfortunately sometimes despite the best design crane accidents still occur where the crane topples over. This dramatic video shows just how dangerous it can be to operate cranes near excavations. The crane being used to lift a bulldozer falls into a hole, presumably due to being overloaded.

What would you do?

Link http://youtu.be/G2LX_YpjkdA

The incident with the 35 tonne crane in the video above took place in Russia but in Australia, any operator of a crane needs to be in possession of a High Risk Licence. I wonder whether the operator in the video above was properly trained, certified and experienced, however judging from the video, I doubt it.

PS.  You can buy PPE online here.


Why Construction Workers Need Personal Protective Equipment for Site Safety

When it comes to a list of the world’s riskiest industries, construction is somewhere near the top. Sadly despite most construction accidents being avoidable, often the proper precautions aren’t taken to ensure that workers are provided with a safe working environment and safe system of work.

Unfortunately most accidents on building sites are as a result of negligence or ignorance due to a lack of training.

Once employers identify the risks associated with construction work, assess these risks and implement control measures if these risks cannot be eliminated, they must then ensure that workers are trained and knowledgeable about the measures and how to stay safe on site.

Sometimes even once the proper control measures are implemented, an accident can still occur, due to momentary lapses in judgement, fatigue, lack of supervision, lack of training or some other reason but in this situation personal protective equipment (PPE) can be invaluable.

Although PPE will not prevent an accident from occurring, it will reduce the severity of the impact on the worker, sometimes saving the worker from death.  Remember on site to utilise the following most common PPE, however this list is not exhaustive and the PPE utilised will depend on the risks presented,

  • Protect the head with a hard hat

Hardhats protect every person on the site from head injuries which may occur from falling objects, when a person slips, trips and falls and bumps their head or when another worker or machinery hits in the worker etc. Hard hats of excellent and dependable quality will ensure protection of our construction workers’ heads and often prevent serious head injuries which can be fatal at times.

  • Protect the face and the eyes with safety protectors

In the job site, it is expected that the workers will have to deal with various particles that may put their face and eyes at risk. There are safety gears designed for the face and eyes to help construction workers avoid exposing them to dangerous elements, including dust, hazardous chemicals, and airborne flecks that could cause harm.

  • Protect the hands with gloves

Specific tasks that present a risk to workers hands require gloves to be utilised. There are many different types of gloves such as rubber gloves, welding gloves, insulated gloves, and others which are available for each job. The gloves will protect them from lesions, chemical burns, and other forms of injuries due to handling of different construction materials. The gloves should comfortably fit the workers to ensure that they could perform their duties well and avoid further risks.

  • Protect the feet with safety footwear

Construction workers should wear safety shoes or boots. Ideally, those with soles that are slip and puncture resistant are best for construction workers to prevent injury from machinery, equipment, tools, materials etc.

When choosing the right PPE for the job, employers the selection processes must include consultation with workers and also include an evaluation of the risk and performance requirements for the PPE.

Once the right PPE for the job is determined, workers need to receive training on how to utilise PPE, store, maintain and handle PPE.

Training about PPE is covered extensively in this White Card course



Tower Crane Collapse Kills 2

Working around tower cranes can be extremely risky when the proper precautions have not been taken by those undertaking the operation, this accident in Singapore is proof of that. Two workers died when a tower crane collapsed at a construction site in the city. Three other workers are lucky to be alive and were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

According to the health and safety officials in that country, the 2 deceased workers passed away on the scene and were pronounced dead by paramedics while the other 3 were rushed to hospital for treatment.

Construction crews use tower cranes to lift steel, concrete, large tools like acetylene torches and generators and a wide variety of other building materials. But as useful as the tower crane is, it can be just as dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken when undertaking work with these machines.

This particular incident took place when concrete slabs which were serving as a counterbalance on the back of the crane came loose and fell onto scaffolding, it is believed the crane was about to be used to lift building materials at the time.

This excerpt taken from an article on www.ChannelNewsAsia.com explains,

Concrete slabs on the rear of the crane, which serve as counterbalance, came loose at about 10.32am and fell on to scaffolding in the worksite, eyewitnesses said. The National Art Gallery is at the site of the former City Hall and across Coleman Street from St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Engineer Mr Kenneth, 40, told TODAY that the worker who died in the accident is a Thai national. Project manager Mr Gil, meanwhile, said that the crane was about to hoist construction materials when the concrete slabs fell, and he ran for cover just before when he heard a noise from above.

Both men did not want to be identified as their management is not speaking. The main contractor for the site is Takenaka.

The SCDF said they received a report of the incident at 11.33am.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/two-dead-in-tower-crane/831052.html

Perhaps what is even more disturbing is that this was not the first incident to take place at this site. A previous crane incident almost turned into a disaster when it collapsed, narrowly missing passing cars. It is baffling why the site’s management did not address all crane issues when they got their first warning, but unfortunately too many in the industry are guilty of this type of behaviour-ignoring the signs, to their own detriment. The post goes on to explain,

The accident is not the first at the worksite near the Supreme Court. On July 25, a crawler crane tilted and its jib landed on Coleman Street, reportedly missing cars driving by.

Of that incident, the National Art Gallery said supervisors from the Takenaka-Singapore Piling Joint Venture took action to close off the street when they noticed the crane begin to dip and that there were “no injuries or damage to vehicles in the vicinity”.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/two-dead-in-tower-crane/831052.html


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