A worker on an old mine site was stung almost 90 times by bees during an environmental rehabilitation operation.
The man was taken to hospital after suffering around 90 bee stings to his head and upper body.
This incident reminds me of the risks of working on old sites, even in construction. You never know what pests you find when you begin an excavation or renovation of an older site, so you must proceed with caution and take the necessary control measures.
Find out more about this incident here.
Imagine a paint that could repel an unwanted substance? That’s exactly what San Francisco city officials have decided is the solution for urine soaked city walls.
The new paint technology actually repels urine and causes it to spray back onto the person urinating.
What will they think of next?
A cool construction fail video shows us exactly what happens when a wall collapses on a building site. Thankfully nobody was injured during this collapse…
The Department of Health, together with Deafness Forum of Australia will be raising awareness for protection of worker hearing with Hearing Awareness Week 2015.
Hearing Awareness Week is taking place between 23-29 August and aims to highlight the important of managing noise levels on work sites.
To get more information visit www.hearingawarenessweek.org.au
There are a number of hazards on the average construction site that can result in a fire, which is why fire response and evacuation procedures need to be developed before work on site even begins.
The construction site fire in this video was set on purpose but a number of possible ignition sources on construction sites means it can occur at any time and people’s lives are put at risk. It can also set work drastically, costing millions. Watch the fire below…
You’d be forgiven for thinking the intricate lattice designed facade above took years of toil and labor to complete, but the truth is a new development makes this kind of brick work a breeze.
The bricks themselves have been hollowed-out in a special design and are placed and glued into position by a specially designed robotic arm.
The development is the brain child of Swiss firm Gramazio Kohler
Find out more here.
Look closely at the walls of the classroom above. Can you spot what makes them unique? Instead of the traditional bricks, these walls are composed of used plastic cola bottles filled with concrete, soil and water.
The new construction material is not only cheap and readily available, but it is also apparently durable – being able to withstand earthquakes and heavy storms.
Read more about it here.
A former CFMEU official has pleaded not guilty to 2 counts of blackmail arising from allegations made during the Royal Commission hearings, with the latest allegations involving a Canberra builder who apparently paid off the official for peace on his work site.
The builder claims he was forced to pay $30,000 to the wife of the CFMEU official to avoid stop work orders being issued on his work site.
The builder says he paid the money because he was afraid of getting on the bad side of the union. Read the full story here.
The Hunter’s Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squad is investigating 2 truckloads of illegally disposed of waste in Lake Macquarie and the Lower Hunter.
Companies are being warned that illegal dumping can result in fines of up to $1 million.
Find out more here.
One tradie was pleased discover a hammer he had lost 23 years earlier during the demolition of a Mr Fluffy home in Canberra.
Brett Gibson, now working as a demolition supervisor on the Mr Fluffy homes demolitions lost his first hammer 23 years earlier while working as an apprentice.
Read more here.
Construction safety is no joke and this construction fail video is anything but humorous. It does however show us some the consequences of neglecting safety in the construction industry. Watch this video for more of what not to do in construction.
New skylifts for the Mornington Peninsula have just been approved. Construction on the $16m sky-lift for Arthurs Seat was recently approved and will probably begin soon.
The new tourist attraction will create jobs for people in Victoria and will boost tourism, according to Environment, Climate Change and Water Minister Lisa Neville.
Read more here.
Can you believe workers worked non-stop to demolish and then rebuild this bridge in just 14 hours? This is productivity at its best…
People had to evacuate their homes after a wall collapsed on a nearby construction site.
The Mt. Waverly homes had to be evacuated because they are on the brink of collapse due to the crumbling construction site nearby.
Witnesses say the wall crumbled like “cake”, when the site was being excavated to build a 3 storey building. The heavy rains are thought to have had some effect on the ground stability.
Read more here.
Bridge construction can be a huge and complicated task. Watch as this bridge is constructed over the period of a year, it certainly presents some unique hazards and complications, let’s see how they handled it.
In developing countries, where construction materials are expensive and scarce, innovative people are taking construction waste and doing something ingenious – recycling it into concrete blocks for construction. Watch this video that shows how they’re doing it.
According to a Safe Work Australia report, construction sites in The ACT have the highest rate of serious injuries.
Safe Work Australia data shows that 29 serious injury claims per 1000 workers in the territory during 2012-13, compared with just 12.9 in Victoria.
If you are a builder or worker in the ACT, ensure that you prioritize safety, so that we can see these high injury rates brought down.
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au
Construction bosses and Master Builders Queensland are calling for the introduction of compulsory drug testing on construction sites. Employees say they fear attacks from co-workers that are hooked on ice and commonly bully them.
Employers say mandatory testing is crucial to identifying those employees that are abusing crystal meth, because otherwise these employees erupt on the work site and use violence on their co-workers.
To find out more, click here.
This video highlights exactly what can go wrong when you engage in construction work. The best construction fails of the year so far…
A man has emerged unscathed after plunging his vehicle 3 metres into a construction pit when he lost control at a roundabout. The man crashed through the security fencing and narrowly escaped injury when his vehicle went into a pit. The man was trapped for about one hour but managed to emerge from the pit without a scratch.
Find out more here.
Taking PPE to a whole new level, Ekso Bionics have created an exoskeleton which is aimed at making the lives of construction workers a little easier.
The exoskeleton uses the latest technology to deliver a totally weightless system, to make construction work safer and easier, improving productivity and minimising injury.
While the technology is still expensive (around $12,000) the company hopes it will be common in most construction sites in the next few years.
Would you wear it?
See here for more.
Record-breaking housing construction approvals will ensure that housing projects in the pipeline should sustain construction activity over the year.
According to figures recently released by The Australian Bureau of Statistics $57.6 billion worth of new homes were approved for construction in the past 12 months. That means over 200,000 dwellings will be constructed across Australia this year.
This activity is expected to slow soaring house prices. Find out more here.
Construction sites can be extremely high risk environments and sometimes despite our best efforts hazards still present themselves. In these situations it is crucial that workers and the public (or visitors to the site) are warned of hazards, safety protocol etc. using appropriately displayed signage.
A properly placed safety sign can go a long way in protecting the lives of construction workers by alerting them of possible hazards and reminding them of the steps they need to take.
Although we do receive safety training, we do need to sometimes have hazard warnings before our eyes so we don’t forget – construction site safety signs are an easy and efficient way to do that.
Find out more here.
Learning the fundamentals of construction safety is crucial, which is why The White Card training is so important. If you haven’t completed the white card course yet, you should do it asap and if you have, here is a video highlighting some common construction safety issues to refresh your memory.
According to reports Tony Abbott has received a shortlist of 30 potential dam projects from a ministerial task force headed by Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce. The Coalition’s Infrastructure campaigning during the last federal election seems to be coming to fruition, or at least plans seem to be underway.
The list contains the names of new dams for construction as well as the names of existing dams for expansion in Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland and NSW.
According to an article on Sourceable.net the following are some of dams contained in the shortlist,
In the Sunshine State, proposed projects include a new dam on the Fitzroy River just south of Rockhampton, the expansion of the Burdekin Dam in the north of the state, and the Nathan Dam near Brisbane.
A raft of new dam projects are envisaged for NSW, including an upgrade of the Chaffey Dam near Tamworth and the Menindee Lakes upgrade, both of which have received funding commitments from the Commonwealth, as well as the Needles Gap Dam and the Apsely Dam, which was shelved in the 1980s by the Wran government.
The shortlist also includes the third stage of the Ord River Scheme in the northernmost part of Western Australia, which could help shift water from Western Australia back into the Northern Territory, and a dam project in north-west Tasmania.
The article reminded readers of the fact that the Coalition made the construction of more dams a part of its federal election campaign when Tony Abbott also labelled himself as an “infrastructure Prime Minister in waiting”.
According to the Agricultural Minister the dams are primarily aimed at supporting the nation’s expansion agriculturally and in the mining sector which also demands a lot of water in its functioning. It is also hoped the mines will help revitalise the nation’s regional economies.
Agricultural Minister identified the need for more dams throughout the nation in order to prepare Oz for what Joyce described as a huge potential market for agricultural goods in Asia as well as to prepare for the for the next boom in the resources sector, which may be slowing down at the moment but will likely pick up again in the future.
Joyce also went on to describe how the damming of Queensland’s Fitzroy River and the construction of the Nathan Dam would provide the state with much needed water for the agriculture and mining industries.
Joyce went on to explain about the benefits of the shortlist:
Joyce said the delivery of the shortlist of dam projects was a sign of the government’s determination to make good on its infrastructure campaigning at the last election. He warned, however, that not all of the 30 projects on the shortlist, which had been narrowed down from a total of 100 proposals from prior to the election, were guaranteed to proceed, and that the assessment process was still ongoing.
According to government sources, around half of the projects on the list could commence work quickly, while the remainder would require further consideration.
According to the article the federal cabinet will take into consideration the dams report over the next few weeks but the final decision on which project to support will be made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott thereafter.
SafeWork Australia has recently warned that young workers can be at a risk of workplace injury due to their lack of experience as well as their immaturity. The authority is emphasising through a campaign aimed at young workers that they need to be supervised even more cautiously than other new workers and trained adequately.
Due to the increased risk that young workers are placed in, Safe Work Australia has launched its Young Workers Strategy.
An accident which took place in Oakville, Ontario is an example of what can happen when young people aren’t properly supervised or trained to work on a construction site. The 17 year old boy was hospitalised after the accident which place on the Oakville construction site.
According to an article on the local news site BramptonGuardian.com the boy was assisting in the construction of a trench when a collapse occurred. The post explained:
Police said the male was helping to build a trench on the side of the road near Dundas Road and Third Line when a wall collapsed, trapping him.
Ornge air ambulance attended the scene, but the teen was taken by land ambulance to a local hospital.
The extent of the male’s injuries is unclear.
Police said the Ministry of Labour has been contacted as is protocol.
This incident highlights how important it is for workers in construction to be trained prior to beginning work in this sometimes dangerous industry.
In Australia this prior training takes the form of The White Card course. This training ensures that young workers are familiarised with the hazards associated with construction work, such as trenches before they begin working on this hazardous sites. It is a requirement nationally that all workers undergo this training and obtain a White Card as proof of doing so.
This vulnerability of young workers is why SafeWork Australia has launched the Young Workers Strateg – because young people are often less aware of the risks and lack the maturity to cope well on a high risk work site.
According to SafeWork Australia these young workers often also demonstrate the following which make them vulnerable,
They may also be:
developing their skills, competencies and physical capabilities
unaware of their rights and responsibilities
unaware of the duties of others regarding workplace health and safety
unfamiliar with appropriate workplace behaviours
reluctant to make requests, ask questions or speak out about problems
overly keen to please and make a good impression, and
over-confident in their capabilities.
According to statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were 54,458 women and 54,864 men aged between 15 and 24 years in South Australia’s workforce, so those employers who think this issue is not an important one are wrong.
The majority of the young men employed between these ages were employed in the high risk industries, of which construction is one. That is why SafeWork SA is attempting to raise awareness of the issues surrounding these young men and women. They are particularly concerned with providing young workers with accessible information on workplace hazards, safety procedures and workplace rights. These are issues that are covered by the White Card Course as well.
For more information visit SafeWork SA’s website
Queensland authorities have adopted a unique approach to keeping road construction workers safe. Motorists driving along Gateway Motorway in Nudgee would have noticed the bright yellow figurines scattered on the road, which are a new innovative way of warning motorists of road construction.
The large, bright yellow “men” are being used as markers on the road to protect sensitive underground testing equipment and road workers.
The ingenious markers were created by civil construction firm Fulton Hogan and unlike the usual orange cones we’re so used to seeing, the new figurine markers attempt to tap into the psychology of people, helping them consider the human lives on the site.
According to Ron Mitchell from the Department of Main Roads and Transport, this is really the next phase of psychology of keeping people safe.
Mr Mishell explained that the idea for the figurines came from wanting workers to look out for equipment and each other, an issue which is quite serious on road construction sites where the main cause of injury and death is people being run over by vehicles and machinery.
The following excerpt from an article on Abc.net.au explains more from Mr Mishell,
“This really is the next phase of psychology of keeping people safe.
“If people think and want to keep safe there is a good chance they will be.
“The figurines have created a bit of a stir and it has been a good opportunity for us to let people know this is the sort of thing we will do in the future.”
The figurine markers are also equipped with reflective gear for night work just like construction workers are, this is to make it look more real. Mr Mishell explained this is especially useful for keeping trucks at bay on the site,
Mr Mishell said the figurines had also been equipped with reflective gear for night work.
“A lot of work has been done on the reflective gear to make it look like a skeleton for the same principle at night,” he said.
“When the trucks see a skeleton-shaped person rather than a reflective strip on safety vest, it is easy for them to avoid the area.”
In addition to workers being run over by motorists and other construction workers, there were cases of essential equipment being damaged on the site until the figurines were introduced recently. Ultimately, the figurine markers protect both workers and equipment.
Mr Mishell also explained that each figurine had been placed on top of settlement plates that are used by the workers to monitor how much soil can be loaded onto the ground.
Perhaps in the future we may see more sites introducing fluorescent figurine markers which seem to be more effective than the regular old orange cones that we are so used to seeing and which many motorists just seem to ignore.
Mr Mishell said that the initiative was particularly needed in the Nudgee area because of its location near wetlands which make mud and settlement difficult to build highways on. These types of developments improve safety and promote productivity, in the end everyone benefits. Mr Mishell explains:
“This is a great example of innovation by a contractor – to put them on the sensitive gear along the same principle of protecting our workers,” he said.
“None of what we do is cheap; we have all sorts of gear here but more importantly it is to make sure we build things properly,” he explained.
“Safety is the number one priority of all our projects.”
Road construction zones can be dangerous places especially at night. Everyone involved in the construction, maintenance and upkeep of our roads has to be possession of a White Card, just like every other construction worker in Oz.
There are a lot of young people who are looking for the right career and should take construction into consideration. The construction industry may be challenging in terms of health and safety, but the rewards are just as great and at the moment a skills shortage and high demand for workers means that rates are going up and workers are basically making their demands when picking and choosing their employer.
Even those young people with the goal of being their own boss can excel in the construction industry, all that’s needed is years of training and skills development. Specialists in the sector are in demand nationally with housing and infrastructure construction booming.
Deciding on a Trade Skill
One of the most difficult decisions in life is probably what career path to follow. Deciding on a trade and skills that you want to hone may be challenging but will pay off in the long run.
Conducting an aptitude test and seeking career advice from a counsellor can help but most people already know what they enjoy and what they are good at. For example some are more technically minded and prefer working with their hands, whereas others may prefer working with numbers. All these issues need to be considered when making a decision.
Also take into consideration what skills and trades are in the highest demand because these are the ones that you are most likely to find apprenticeships in.
How to Get a Job
According to Forbes.com there are six basic steps to searching for the right job. Below I included some of the steps I find the most useful:
The most useful tip I can give anyone seeking work in the construction sector, whether a skilled and seasoned tradespeople or a young person seeking an apprenticeship is to complete the White Card training. Employers are more interested in candidates that are already in possession of the mandatory White Card than those that still need to complete the training.
The course can be easily completed online with a short verbal assessment conducted over the phone. It is a relatively cost effective way of completing the training and is undoubtedly the most convenient.
A man working as a plasterer on a residential construction site in Trafford in the UK has suffered a broken back after falling 3 meters. As this case points out, even falls from lower heights can be serious.
The man fell from a landing at the construction site of a six bedroomed house. The fall left the workers with a broken back.
According to reports, CB Homes, the company responsible has been fined for failure to make sure adequate guard rails were in place on the first floor landing of the house to prevent falls of this nature.
Due to the company’s negligence, the 58 year old workman was fitting plasterboard when he fell from the open landing on 22 May 2013. The man suffered 2 cracked vertebrae along with damage to his spine, hips and legs.
The court heard that the company had engaged a plastering contractor to plaster the inside of the houses but failed to make sure this work could be carried out safely, which was part of their responsibility.
Inspectors also said that the plasterer needed to use a ladder to reach the first floor and fulfil his duties however despite knowing this, the company failed to act. There was no guard rail in place along the open edge on the landing and this resulted in the plasterer falling while trying to carry a piece of plasterboard. He apparently lost his footing and fell to the ground below.
The court heard that the principal contractor was ultimately responsible for safety at the site. The company should have ensured that work at height was being carried out safely.
The company should have planned and carried out work efficiently and put guard rails in place to prevent a fall.
Building firms who take on big projects ought to be aware of their health and safety duties under the law and ensure that they are providing workers with a safe work environment.
Following the hearing, Health and Safety Executive Inspector Laura Moran said:
“A plasterer suffered serious injuries in the fall which could, and should, have been prevented.
As the principal contractor on the site, CB Homes was responsible for making sure work at height could be carried out safely. If the company had planned and supervised the work properly then it could have made sure guard rails were in place.
Companies who take on big construction projects have a legal duty to make sure the tradesmen they bring onto the site can do their job safely. CB Homes fell well below that legal requirement on this occasion.”
In Australia construction safety training not only teaches workers how to work safely on a construction site so that they do not endanger themselves or others, it also teaches them what an employer’s responsibility is, so that workers are aware of what they should expect employers to provide. This is crucial to ensuring that they are not being placed at risk. Workers can take up any instances where employers are failing in their duties to provide a safe work site and safe working system.
Most New Yorkers and visitors to New York rely on the subway system to get them around the city but building, maintaining and managing the subway system is a gargantuan task which also takes an enormous amount of time and effort.
Understandably drilling, digging and constructing under the most populated city in the USA is both costly and complicated. That is why a recent article which demonstrates the enormity of the task is so interesting. The article features a number of pictures which show the current largest project taking place at the Second Avenue Subway line.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has decided to complete some of its incomplete projects which were started as early as 1929 and the 1960s. The incomplete tunnels are now being turned into working train lines, to support the growing population and infrastructure needs of the city.
The pictures in this post were released by the MTA on their Flickr, detailing the ongoing process of construction of 2 major projects.
The Second Avenue subway began construction in 1929 and was started and stopped many times since then through the decades. New Yorkers actually refer to the tunnel as “The Line That Time Forgot”.
Phase 1 is scheduled to open in 2016 and will serve as an extension of the Q line. The 96th Street Station, shown here, is one of three stations being built during Phase 1.
The rest of the 8.5 mile subway line is currently in the planning phase. It is estimated that will cost more than $US17 billion. This is the 86th Street station.
The other long-gestating project is East Side Access. The goal of the project is to ease commutes from Long Island and Queens to the east side of Manhattan through a new 8-track terminal below Grand Central Station. This is a view of the new terminal.
During huge projects like this, which are also usually more high risk than others above ground, it is common for workers to suffer injuries and in the New York subway construction, there have been workers who have lost their lives. It is important that when the hazards are expanded because of unique aspects such as having to work underground (or working in old tunnels which may have degraded over the decades), that safety is prioritised.
In Oz workers must be properly trained and supervised. Employers also need to ensure that they are providing workers with a safe work environment and system of work.
Learn more about Construction Safety Training in Oz.
The construction induction course required by all workers in Oz (engaged in construction work) is The White Card course. Following the harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws a few years ago, various state induction cards were replaced by the nationally recognised White Card. Learn more about the White Card here!
According to The HIA (Housing Industry Association) the latest New Home Sales Report, a survey of Australia’s largest volume builders, indicates the ongoing strength of the new home building sector.
In a post Sourceable.net HIA Economist Diwa Hopkins was quoted, explaining that monthly sales volumes remained high throughout last year following the recovery made in the previous year. In fact the growth was quite significant, 2014 sales were 14.4 per cent higher than 2013.
According to the data, December 2014 did see a slight decline in new home sales. Seasonally adjusted new home sales fell by 1.9 per cent but sales increased by 4.9 per cent in the December quarter. The December monthly outcome reflected a drop of 9.2 per cent in multi-unit sales.
Hopkins went on to explain:
“A key change in conditions to the residential construction sector in 2015 is the February cut to the official cash rate to a new historic low,” said Ms Hopkins. “However, it should be noted that this cut was made in the context of a mooted tightening of lending conditions in parts of the housing market.”
“This year will be another healthy one for the national new home building sector,” added Ms Hopkins. “The two key leading indicators of new home building activity, new home sales and residential building approvals, both saw increases during the December quarter of 2014.This is a clear indication that actual residential construction activity will rise in the current early months of 2015, which is good news for the broader domestic economy in addition to the housing sector.”
In Western Australia detached house sales grew by 2.8 per cent in December 2014 and by 2.6 per cent in Queensland.
In South Australia, detached house sales dropped by 5.3 per cent and in Victoria it declined by just 2.6 per cent. Victoria also had a slight decline (1.4 per cent) in New South Wales.
The HIA Report also explained that during the December 2014 quarter, sales increased by 13.4 per cent in Western Australia, 11.6 per cent in Queensland and 2.7 per cent in Victoria. It also indicated that sales declined by 10.3 per cent in New South Wales and by 7.5 per cent in South Australia.
While predictions are for a positive 2015 in terms of housing construction starts, the only way that we will be able to ensure sustainable growth and a profitable 2015 all round is to ensure that we put safety first.
Safety must take priority in 2015 and everyone in the industry – employees as well as employers, must take responsibility for OHS.
Employers carry much of the responsibility for safety in the workplace, having to provide a safe work environment and system of work according to workplace health and safety laws but employees aren’t without responsibility.
Within the construction sector employees must ensure that they conduct themselves in a way that does not endanger their safety or that of co-workers on a construction site. In order to be aware of what “safe behaviour” on a construction site constitutes, workers must complete construction induction training and obtain a White Card as proof of doing so.
The collapse of a rebar structure as a result of inadequate temporary works support has resulted in a warning being issued by the British Health and Safety Executive.
The company responsible, Costain Ltd and Bell Formwork Services Ltd were prosecuted after a rebar structure collapsed on a Birmingham project in November 2012. This collapse caused 2 workers to fall from a scissor lift during the construction of a concrete tank at a new pumping stating and water treatment facility.
The case appeared before the Birmingham Magistrates who heard that 2 steel fixers were working at 5 metres above ground in separate scissor-lifts when reinforcing bar structure collapsed knocking over both scissor lifts with the operators still inside.
One worker remained in the platform when it landed and crashed into a nearby support frame, reports claimed. The man suffered bruising as well as pain to his leg and shoulder.
The other worker was propelled from the platform and suffered bruises to his head, legs and body. Three workers were working below the structure and managed to take cover before being injured.
Following an investigation, it was discovered that the steel reinforcement was unstable because of its size, slenderness of the steel and the weight of the steel at a high level. Authorities said that temporary support should have been in place every 7 metres but only 2 support frames were used at 8.3m spacing leaving an 8m section unsupported.
The principal contractor Costain Limited failed to plan, manage or monitor the work properly even though the risk was evident and the need for temporary support was obvious.
Temporary supports should be given equal attention as permanent reports, as this excerpt from an article on PPConstructionSafety.com goes on to explain:
The Principal Contractor failed to apply their own temporary works management arrangements which would have included a series of checks. There was “no managerial level supervision or monitoring during these early stages of the work”.
The company pleaded guilty to the breaches and was ordered to pay fines of £15,000 as well as costs of £1,980.
Similar incidents have taken place on numerous occasions here in Australia, even over the last few years. Speaking after the hearing, the health and safety executive inspector Luke Messenger explained:
“This was a serious incident and considering the size and weight of the wall, and the height from which the scissor-lifts overturned, it is extremely fortunate that no serious or even fatal injuries occurred.
Construction and related companies need to ensure that the same degree of care and attention is given to the design and construction of temporary structures as it is to the design and construction of permanent works. Everything must be properly planned so it can be carried out safely by their staff.
Both companies were experienced in their industry and should have done better.”
According to a report on the Yahoo News website, Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Project is under threat after concerns about safety standards were raised on the site.
The concerns centred around an incident involving collapsing supporting jacks that gave way recently under heavy construction module at the project’s processing plant.
The incident happened last week but is only the latest in a number of potentially fatal safety incidents at the processing plant.
Just last month the use of cranes and heavy lifting equipment was banned at the processing facility. The Department of Mines and Petroleum took action following a string of incidents at the site which involved the lead contractor Samsung C&T and its contractors on the site.
The following excerpt from the Yahoo article explains some of the prior incidents,
They included a snapped cable during a 100-tonne lift, the discovery of serious equipment damage on a 400t crane because of incorrectly rigged cables, and other examples of damage caused by incorrect equipment use.
An investigation into a separate incident, in which a grader operated by Roy Hill contractors was hit by an empty BHP Billiton ore train, is still to deliver its report.
Roy Hill’s efforts to demonstrate it c
ould operate its lifting equipment safely were marred by another accident, after a crane toppled over during a supervised test-lift.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum lifted the prohibition notices after 3 days but also issued four improvement notices during follow-up safety inspections. These improvement notices were related to training and operating procedure failures at the processing facility.
The project is believed to be running significantly behind in its construction schedule even before safety bans. The project is working towards a September target according to reports, hoping to ship its first load of ore by then however at the moment the project is only 74 per cent complete.
In a statement issued by a Roy Hill spokeswoman it was confirmed,
“A module located in the cordoned-off laydown area at the mine processing plant shifted from the mechanical clamps, which were fitted on to the module at the point of origin and commencement of road transport to Roy Hill,” she said.
“The incident is being investigated by Samsung C&T and its subcontractors.”
Mining Construction Safety and The White Card
Mining construction, like other types of construction is high risk work. That is why the construction induction White Card is mandatory for those involved in mining construction because anyone involved in any type of construction needs to be prepared for the hazards and controls associated with the work. They also need to be educated about what Australian law says about construction health and safety and their duty in it.
The White Card is mandatory for all types of construction in Australia and it can be obtained by completing a short online course. Also the accreditation gained is valid nationally so there is no need to repeat the training when moving to a different site and/or a different state.
Bad weather and shoddy workmanship are a dangerous combination as the driveway collapse on a Sydney building site recently proved.
The accident involving a portion of a building site and a driveway collapsing into a construction pit was caused by poor workmanship and bad weather, according to an engineer. Following the collapse reports stated continued wet weather was still hampering efforts to stabilise a three storey unit just a few metres from the pit.
The 3 storey Collaroy unit block was evacuated due to a gas main being ruptured during the collapse. Residents of the block were only allowed to return the following day because of safety concerns.
Geotechnical Engineer David Dickson explained:
“It’s unfortunate that this continuing wet weather appears to have softened the ground around and they’ve had a collapse due to inadequate shoring,” geotechnical engineer David Dickson told the Seven Network.
According to reports fire crews and engineers were on the site all day assessing it and the builders were instructed to backfill under the collapsed driveway. Police were also on the scene.
Poor workmanship is one of the factors that is said to have contributed to this incident, this is something that needs to be addressed with the site supervisor and workers involved however bad weather and its effects on construction are something that all construction workers need to be aware of and prepared for.
Rain particularly heavy rains or prolonged periods of rain can be detrimental not only to construction but also safety, worker safety and the safety of the public.
Obviously heavy rains are unpleasant to work in but the presence of heavy or torrential rain will reduce visibility for the drivers of construction vehicles, and will turn the ground into mud which poses its own risks to the health and safety of all site workers.
Construction site operators not only have a duty to look after the health and safety of their own workers, but also towards the general public who may be affected by their operations. In this case the driveway collapse could have resulted in a member of the public falling into the hole created.
Also employers must be proactive in preventing mud or other debris from leaving the construction site and possibly hampering the safety of the public on the road.
Employers often neglect the need for tyre and undercarriage cleaning systems to wash off mud and debris which vehicles leaving the site need to go through before they exit.
Employers also need to be aware that structures under construction are more susceptible to collapse during heavy rainfall such as the driveway that collapsed in the incident above, workers need to be protected from the possibility of being injured during structural collapses.
It is also important that we are aware that our weather patterns are changing. Rainfall patterns are also therefore varying, some areas which weren’t prone to heavy rain are receiving dangerously high volumes and other areas are getting rain during times of the year when it is usually dry seasons. Employers should not be caught off guard because of climate change and the changing rainfall patterns.
Winter has arrived and it seems people all around us are either getting sick or recovering from some sort of flu or cold. It is no different in the workplace and for workers that spend most of their time outdoors it is important to protect one’s health and guard against the common cold and flus.
Although most of us are prepared to do whatever it takes to ward off colds and flus and protect our bodies from the contagious bugs that are so easily spread during this time of year, we often fail to do what it takes to protect our mental wellbeing, although numerous experts can attest that it is equally important to our overall wellbeing.
According to a team of American psychologists from Saint Louis University, stress can actually be contagious, as contagious as a cold, so in a work environment it is important to address issues that contribute to excessive stress.
According to the psychologists stress has become an endemic, particularly in The United States where it affects almost everyone.
The researchers wanted to examine how susceptible perfect strangers were to second hand stress. The following excerpt from an article on Smh.com.au explains how the psychologists went about their study,
To test the theory, they took a group of participants and asked some to perform a public speaking or mental arithmetic challenge while the others observed.
The researchers measured the levels of cortisol and a stress-related salivary enzyme in the stressed speakers and the observers.
They found that the stress response in the witnesses was “proportional to that of their paired speakers and not influenced by gender”.
Stress can be passed on through things like tone of voice, facial expressions, posture and even odour.
If stress is contagious, it is even more reason for employers and managers to assist workers who are struggling with this issue in the workplace because the more it is allowed to fester, the more it will grow and spread to others in the workplace. Before long we could end up with an entirely stressed out workforce, affecting morale on site and negatively impacting productivity.
Also keep in mind that stress affects our physical health because experts say people who are under emotional stress are more likely to become sick physically. During colds and flu season, people who are emotionally stressed seem to have a lower immune system and succumb to sickness more than those who are emotionally healthy.
Within a construction environment, or in fact any high risk work environment, stress can also contribute to a reduction in workplace safety as workers aren’t as alert while stressed as they normally would be.
Employers should also consider that following an accident or near miss (or any emergency on a work site), workers need to be counselled and assisted to mentally and emotionally overcome the situation because stress has the ability to resonate even after a tense experience has taken place. The article on Smh.com.au goes on to explain the findings of another study which explains:
A separate, small-scale study by the University of California, in collaboration with New York University, found that stress can resonate even in the aftermath of a tense experience.
The researchers separated a group of mothers from their babies for a short period. The mothers were then divided into groups and asked to give an impromptu speech to a panel, who watched passively, with positive facial expressions or whilst scowling.
The babies were then reunited with their mothers and both their heart rates were measured. It was found that the baby’s heart rates mirrored that of their mother.
“The greater the mother’s stress response, the greater the infant’s stress response – an association that actually became stronger over time,” the authors said.
The actions of builders have serious implications for the health and safety of everyone on a work site, which is why wilful disregard of safety cannot be tolerated, especially in an industry such as construction where there are so many high risk activities taking place, most often simultaneously. Although companies should try to avoid receiving warnings from authorities, companies that breach safety, receive a warning and still fail to act to address the issue are a particular concern.
A British house builder found himself in hot water with the Health and Safety Executive after he failed to act after receiving several warnings. The construction firm, Waterloo Construction (Manchester) Ltd was fined £10k (Aus$19,039.14) for failure to act on HSE warnings.
The company allowed bricks on its site to be stacked on scaffolding platforms without putting into place any measures to stop bricks from falling and injuring people below.
The case was recently heard before Trafford Magistrates Court and it was revealed during the hearing that an inspector visited the building site on 14 November 2013 and discovered the breaches of health and safety laws, warnings were issued. On visiting the site again, it was discovered that the issues had not been corrected.
The following excerpt from PPConstructionSafety.com explains about the breaches:
Bricks were stored on a scaffolding platform above the height of the toe board, which meant there was a risk of them falling if they became dislodged. A Prohibition Notice was issued requiring the bricks to be stored at ground level or for brick guards to be used.
Three further visits to April 2014 found bricks still being stacked on scaffolding platforms with no measures in place to prevent them from falling.
In addition to the £10,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay £1,445 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to the breach and failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice.
After the hearing Health and Safety Executive Inspector Laura Moran spoke about the case and how it should serve as a warning to other construction firms. Moran stated:
“If one of the bricks had fallen from the scaffolding and struck someone on the ground below then they could have suffered serious head injuries.
We gave Waterloo Construction several opportunities to improve safety, returning to the site on three separate occasions after my initial visit, but bricks continued to be stacked unsafely on scaffolding.
This case should act as a warning to other construction firms. The notices that HSE issues are legally enforceable and companies will find themselves in court if they fail to take action.”
Although this incident takes place thousands of kilometres away, across the pond, it can serve as a useful warning to others in the construction sector, even here in Oz…
If given an opportunity to improve safety, take it.
Don’t try to negate health and safety responsibilities even after being issued with warnings. The White Card is crucial in teaching workers what their responsibilities are on the work site and what they should expect from their employer, this will help employees recognise when their employers are placing them at risk and issues need to be addressed.
Corruption in the construction industry has become a major issue recently, one that affects many in the industry whether they are aware of it or not. That is why the federal government and the Victorian state government have combined forces to target criminality, organised crime and corruption in the industry.
Prime Minister Abbott recently announced that a joint police taskforce has been formed to investigate evidence of criminal conduct which was unearthed during the recent Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
According to Prime Minister Abbott the task force will address corruption, organised crime and even violence in the construction industry taking firm, decisive and swift action against these illegal actions.
Prime Minister Abbott expressed his concern about the quantity of evidence that emerged which showed evidence of criminal conduct in a letter written to him by the Royal Commissioner following the hearings.
An article on Sbs.com.au carried the following quote from the letter:
“Where he said, and I quote. “The inquiry has thus far revealed evidence of criminal conduct which includes widespread instances of physical and verbal violence, cartel conduct, secondary boycotts, contempt of court and the encouragement of others to commit these contempts.” The commissioner went on, “Some officials appear to regard their unions as having immunity not only from the norms and sanctions of the Australian legal system but also from any social or community standards shared by other Australians.”
Health and safety in the construction industry should be of primary concern and any criminal activities not only hamper safety efforts but also draw attention away from it, which can be dangerous. Any attempt to rid the industry of this type of criminal activity should be welcomed by all in the construction sector.
However the The Australian Council of Trade Unions says the announcement pre-empts the results of the Royal Commission and according to its assistant secretary Tim Lyons, serious corruption allegations should have been handled by the police first. He believes that this is a particular attack on the unions by the government because of their support of the Labor party.
Lyons was quoted as saying:
“Any time you see politicians, announcing what the police are going to do, it’s deeply political, particularly when the police aren’t there. I think it was telling that you had the Prime Minister and the Premier saying, “This is what the police are going to do,” and no police. In the end, the entire public needs to have confidence that the police investigate any crime no matter who the allegation is against, and it’s not used as some sort of partisan instrument to try to make a political point in the middle of an election campaign.”
While Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader said that corruption must be addressed however he did question whether the announcement of the taskforce was appropriately timed. He went on to state:
“I suspect this announcement and the timing of it is more to do with Victorian electoral politics because of the chaos he has created for the Napthine Government by Premier Napthine’s Liberal political party leader in Canberra Tony Abbott introducing new petrol taxes for all Victorian motorists. In terms of the actual announcement of corruption in the building sector, Labor firmly believes, fundamentally believes that the workplace and industrial relations is no place for criminal activity.”
The boom in the Australian housing market has catapulting Oz to the top of the rich list according to the latest study of global wealth by Credit Suisse.
According to the Swiss Investment bank’s fifth annual wealth study, Australians are among the richest people in the world, thanks in part to the recent boom in the nation’s housing market.
The bank’s annual study of wealth trends around the world revealed that at the moment Australia is the most affluent nation on the planet in terms of wealth distribution. In June it was determined that the median Australian adult is worth over US$225,000 (AU$258,000), more than the average in any other country.
In fact Oz is doing so well on the list that even the country behind them, Belgium is lagging quite far behind with median wealth of US$173,000. Following behind Belgium is Italy, France and Britain where the median wealth is around US$110,000.
The following excerpt from an article on Sourceable.net explains further:
The reason for the exorbitant wealth of the average Australian adult is the heavy representation of “real assets” – referring to property – in the household balance of wealth, in tandem with the continuous gains logged by the country’s housing market on the back of low interest rates and surging foreign investment.
Real assets average US$319,700 per household in Australia, accounting for 60 per cent of gross assets.
The report also highlights that since the turn of century, the average Aussie adult has more than quadrupled their net wealth. There has been an impressive rise from US$103,151 to US$431,000.
The article went on to highlight that according to this measure Australia is the second wealthiest population, following behind Switzerland where the adult’s mean net wealth is US$581,000.
Further good news for Australians came with the revelation that the nation does not suffer from the same levels of inequality and distorted distribution of wealth as many other wealthy nations experience. In Australia, wealth is fairly evenly distributed when compared with the distribution of wealth in other wealthy nations. Much of this wealth distribution has to do with the construction and housing boom as the article goes on to explain:
Credit Suisse researchers categorise Australia as nation with “medium inequality,” meaning that the top 10 per cent control between 50 and 60 per cent of the wealth.
According to analysts, the comparatively egalitarian nature of wealth distribution in Australia can also be attributed to the property boom, as rising home prices reduce inequality given their greater share of middle class assets.
Credit Suisse Private Bank chief investment strategist David McDonald went on to state:
“These are obviously remarkable figures for Australia,” said Credit Suisse Private Bank chief investment strategist David McDonald. “We are well positioned globally in terms of wealth, as well as the spread of wealth.”
The collapse of a scaffolding on a construction site in Beijing has resulted in the deaths of 10 workers, with four others being injured. Thankfully no school children were hurt during the collapse on the site at a high ranking Beijing high school.
The accident happened at the beginning of a school day at the Tsinghua High School in Beijing’s northwest. Luckily it didn’t affect any classrooms or students.
A statement issued by authorities said that those injured were in a stable condition. According to a school official the workers were building the school gymnasium at the campus, which is a high school affiliated with one of the country’s top universities.
The school official said that no students or teachers had been injured in the accident. An article on www.HeraldSun.com.au described the heartache of the relatives who had lost loved ones in the incident,
Relatives of the victims waited outside the school gates to be allowed in. A teary-eyed man said his cousin had been working there and a co-worker at the construction site had called to tell him there had been an accident.
Another relative, Wang Zhiquan, said the accident had claimed the life of his nephew Chen Haijun, a 42-year-old migrant worker from Heilongjiang province in China’s northeast.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported that an initial investigation had found that steel bars, used to reinforce concrete structures, had collapsed and caused the accident, citing local authorities.
The police apparently had several suspects in mind who they detained following the incident.
Something that this article illustrates all too well is the huge impact such an accident has not only the workers involved but also their co-workers, families and friends.
Employers in the construction industry have not only a legal duty of care to provide workers with a safe work environment and system of work, but also have an ethical and moral responsibility to workers and their families.
While most employers are aware of their responsibilities, the number of incidents that occur annually even here in Oz, are evidence that safety is being neglected on many construction sites.
Start by Training Workers
A good place to start when reviewing whether health and safety efforts are adequate is training. In the construction industry in Oz, the first form of training that workers must undergo is White Card or general construction induction training.
This training is mandatory for all construction workers and should be completed before workers even begin work, it is not an on-the-job type of training but rather equips workers beforehand about construction health and safety in general. It is best completed online because this is a simple and cost effective method of completing the training.
Once all workers have proven that they have completed the training by producing the actual White Card as proof, employers must ensure that they are provided with additional site specific training. In addition workers in high risk jobs such as crane operation must have the necessary training to do so.
Five construction workers were injured recently when a commercial building they were working on in Nelsons Grant, York County, Virginia collapsed onto them. The accident which took place in Virginia in The USA is an example of the risks that construction workers are exposed to everyday on the job and why health and safety training should be the top priority of employers.
According to authorities, workers were injured during the collapse but none suffered life-threatening injuries. One of the five injured workers who were trapped under debris was flown to hospital for treatment.
Wooden trusses that had fallen onto the workers had to be stabilized by the emergency crew who also worked to pull the injured workers out of the debris, according to Assistant Fire Chief Paul Long. In an article on a local news site, Mr Long said that the cause of the collapse was still unknown but heavy winds are suspected to be the culprit.
Dave Newcomb, owner of Construction Services of Tidewater, the contractor on the commercial building, said the wooden trusses collapsed due to heavy winds. The article went on to explain:
“This has never happened before,” Newcomb said. “They didn’t do anything wrong. They were following all the rules. It looked fine. I have been doing this for 35 years.”
Four workers were on the ground when the roof collapsed and one man suffered several broken bones as a result of being trapped under the debris. The article went on to explain:
His construction crew had set the trusses and braced or nailed down some of the trusses Friday before lunch, he said. They continued bracing the trusses after lunch and while three workers were harnessed in the trusses the trusses collapsed, Newcomb said. One of the three became trapped and the crew cut the trusses loose from him. They waited until emergency personnel arrived to move him, Newcomb said.
The site of the building which collapsed onto 5 workers, sending one of them to hospital for treatment of injuries.
Although there is little that any one worker can do to avoid incidents of this nature, especially if the wind was to blame, it is important that workers are properly trained for the work they are undertaking so that standards are upheld and workers know how to respond to emergency situations.
All workers engaged in construction should be properly trained on their specific duties as well as on site safety in general. In the case above, the possibility of heavy winds should have been considered prior to work beginning.
Workers in Oz have to complete both general construction safety training, in the form of the White Card as well as more site specific training which covers aspects specific to hazards on the site, safety plans, ppe etc. If all workers are in possession of the necessary accreditation, training and supervision, incidents of this nature are less likely to occur.
Learn safety information here
Following reports that construction activity wasn’t going to keep up with population growth and the need for housing it creates, the approval of a record number of homes in the 12 months to November 2014 means that construction may actually be able to keep up with needs.
In an article on TheReporter.com.au the latest home approval figures from The Australian Bureau of Statistics was released.
The figures show that 18,245 new homes were approved in November which brings the annual figure to 199,174.
In the article Residential Development Council executive director Nick Proud was quoted saying that this figure was a sign that the construction industry seemed to be on track to meet growing demand. Mr Proud explained:
“To show the current strength of the November 2014 ABS Building Approvals result, the same 12-month period ending November 2011 saw only 158,298 homes approved which is over 40,000 fewer residential approvals than today’s result.
Basically the number of new homes being built may finally be enough to meet the growing demand of the expanding population. This will not only mean housing will be a little more affordable for consumers but it also means that activity in the construction industry is healthy – good news for construction workers and builders.
The article on TheReporter.com.au went on to explain what some of the implications of this revelation would be,
“It appears that the number of homes being built is finally catching up with population growth and this result can positively support improved affordability if coupled with the introduction of supply side efficiencies in land release, development assessment and tax reform in 2015-16.
“Additional income from GST and stamp duties from roughly 40,000 extra homes underscores the potential to consider a mature consistent approach to competition policy particularly in areas such as planning reform to ensure that the strong cycle is not lost to poor planning outcomes.”
Given the amount of growth taking place we should not forget that safety needs to take precedence over anything else related to construction and productivity.
Forecaster BIS Shrapnel recently released its latest industry report which claims that the building upturn will likely continue for the next half a decade.
According to BIS Shrapnel Building Industry Prospects Report for September, an increase in house prices and residential building activity in 2014/15, is accompanied by an 8 per cent increase in renovation activity.
As construction activity remains high all across Oz, it is important for workers, employers, safety managers and potential construction workers to take into consideration the importance of safety training. Throughout the country, workers must complete general construction induction training. This training is known as The White Card – it is the national construction accreditation required for access onto a building site for work. For more about this White Card accreditation, click here.
The commencement of work on the Princes Highway Bypass is welcomed news. Both tradespeople and motorists in the area are pleased that the project is finally beginning.
The upgrade means that trucks will be diverted off the main street and around the town, which both businesses and individuals in the area are breathing a sigh of relief about.
The following excerpt from an article on Smh.com.au explains further:
The $580 million upgrade of 11 kilometres of highway will mean trucks that have ploughed through Berry’s main street for decades will be diverted around the town.
Businesses and locals expressed relief that construction had started on Thursday.
A manager of the Berry village boutique hotel, Samantha Gothard was quoted in the article explaining how the upgrade would have a significant positive impact on members of the community including the elderly. She explained:
“Elderly locals travel to Nowra to shop because they are too frightened to cross the road,”
She also explained that the town was not afraid of a loss of business as a result of the bypass and the loss of passing traffic. She went on to state:
“People who want to come to Berry will come to Berry and we have enough already without waiting an hour in traffic.”
Premier Mike Baird said the bypass was a significant transport infrastructure investment in the NSW south coast. Local tradespeople are going to particularly benefit from the construction. Around 400 new construction jobs are expected to be created by the project from now until its completion in 2018. Mr Baird also stated:
“This upgrade is great news for motorists who use this road and also for local tradespeople, as the project will create about 400 construction jobs.”
Let’s make sure that all these people are qualified to undertake this work by first completing White Card training!
A number of infrastructure projects taking place in NSW have resulted in a boost in the economy of the state but also had a positive impact on local employment figures. In particular the construction industry is benefiting from the activity with workers being employed by numerous government funded infrastructure projects around NSW.
The increase in large infrastructure projects such as highways, the airport, the university and the hospital are all contributing to growth in the sector and an increase in employment opportunities corresponding with growth.
The commencement of a number of large scale projects means that a lot of work in the construction sector is being generated in the state.
Citizens and especially motorists in NSW need to be patient and obey the rules of the road, particularly around road construction zones, which they are likely to experience many of in the near future. For the sake of workers on these sites, who are often placed at the mercy of drivers around road construction zones, motorists are being urged to be patient, obey the rules of the road and the signs posted around/leading-up-to the construction zone.
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,
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
Unions 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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
Early 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.
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.
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:
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,
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”