WorkSafe Encourages young workers to speak up at work

WorkSafe recently revealed an awareness campaign urging young workers to speak up at work. The campaign was motivated by the work related injuries of 2 young people in Victoria.

The campaign entitled “Not Sure Ask” has been described as a “graphic and confronting public awareness campaign” by the organisation and will incorporate television, radio, online advertising as well as social media.The television ads will be screened over the next month and has the support of universities and TAFEs across the state.

The campaign is aimed at young workers between the ages of 15-24 in particular because these have been identified as the most at risk and the strategy of the campaign is to encourage them to be more vocal if they have any uncertainties about how to carry out a task, use certain equipment, chemicals or handle machinery.

The advertising campaign will highlight the importance of that split second decision to not speak up which ends up have serious even fatal consequences for young workers in particular. Young workers have been known to be shy when it comes to speaking up about safety concerns or uncertainties on a work site. This may be due to a fear of victimisation, unfamiliarity with the workplace and people there or just immaturity but whatever the reason, keeping quiet about safety can result in death.

Read what WorkSafeNews.com.au posted about the campaign:

“Victoria is acknowledged as having the safest workplaces for young workers in the nation. And yet, almost 15,000 young workers have been seriously injured over the past five years,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“It’s a tragedy that so many young people at the very start of their working lives are still being injured and our statistics show that there are around 3000 workers aged under 25 injured each year in Victorian workplaces.

“That is why we believe campaigns like this are really important to help us drive home the message to young workers that it never hurts to ask and demonstrate to them that there can be life-long consequences of not speaking up.”

WorkCover Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said there were many reasons why young workers were reluctant to speak about up safety.

“Our research tells us that many young workers don’t want to appear stupid or incapable in front of colleagues or supervisors, or felt too insecure to ask while others felt overwhelmed in a new and unfamiliar environment, or didn’t want to bother their busy manager,” she said.

“That’s why it’s essential employers and supervisors not only provide appropriate supervision and training but create a workplace where young workers feel comfortable about speaking up.”

Read more: http://www.worksafenews.com.au/component/k2/item/327-encouraging-young-workers-to-speak-up-at-work.html

Although the campaign focuses on the actions of employees and encouraging young workers to speak out, employers hiring young, apprentice workers also have a role to play. They must recognise that these workers are at a higher risk of being injured especially in high risk industries such as the construction sector. They need to be aware that young workers may require extra training and should be supervised especially when engaging in high risk tasks until they can demonstrate competency to work independently. It is also vital that employers encourage an atmosphere of openness and good communication with employees to facilitate open dialogue among employees and management to ensure good safety practices.

For more construction safety blog posts visit:

http://constructionsafetyblog.wordpress.com/

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Ensuring effective Use of PPE on Construction Sites

For contractors it is not enough to just supply workers with personal protective equipment, it is also vital that they are trained on the correct use of this equipment to ensure that it is effective in preventing injury or minimizing the injury caused by accidents.

Personal protective equipment (aka PPE) is anything used or worn by a person to minimise the risk to the person’s health and safety.

Some examples of PPE which are often utilised in construction are:

  • eye protection such as goggles, glasses and face shields
  • hearing protection – ear plugs and ear muffs
  • respiratory protection such as, filter respirators and airline respirators
  • foot protection for example, safety shoes and boots, spats and rubber boots
  • head protection in the form of hard hats, helmets and broad brimmed hats
  • body protection such as aprons, overalls, gloves and high visibility clothing
  • And any substance used to protect health, such as sunscreen for workers who operate outdoors.

It is important that when employers or persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) are considering PPE to minimise risk to health and safety they ensure that they consider whether the PPE is:

  • Well suited to the nature of the work and any associated hazard
  • Is a suitable size and fit and is comfortable enough for a person to wear and doesn’t interfere with or hinder their work tasks
  • Is maintained, repaired or replaced so it continues to effectively minimise the risk to the worker utilising it
  • Is used or worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Although PPE cannot prevent an accident from happening and so should never be the only form of protection, they can help to minimise the effects of an accident on a worker’s health. For example wearing a hard hat will not prevent objects from falling but they will minimise the injury a falling object can do to a worker if it strikes them in the head.

PPE is one of the least effective ways of controlling risks to health and safety and therefore should only be used when there are no other practical control measures available or as an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the risk can be used. PPE could also be used to supplement higher level control measures.

PPE must be provided to workers free of charge and they should be trained on its effective use. Employers and their employees should also ensure that PPE are kept in good working condition to ensure their continued effectiveness. It is an offence for employers to charge workers for providing PPE.

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.

Employers should consider the compatibility of PPE items where more than one type of PPE is required and should consult with the supplier to make sure that the PPE is suitable for the type of work being undertaken and the workplace conditions.

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

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Construction Safety Update : Preventing structural collapse in Construction

With the wall collapse last month on a site in Melbourne which claimed the lives of 3 pedestrians, the need for structural collapse in construction is a safety issue which requires attention. Therefore an alert has been issued by WorkSafe Victoria on their website www.worksafe.vic.gov.au highlighting the importance of ensuring structural stability of buildings and structures, especially when engaging in construction, demolition and refurbishment work.

This is the background to the alert as indicated on WorkSafe Vic’s website:

Background

The collapse of structures, including buildings, may result in death or serious injury to employees and the public.

There have been numerous incidents where structures have collapsed. This has been due to:

inclement weather, particularly wind

the foundations or temporary supports of the structure being undermined

lateral supports of the structure being removed

the structure receiving a heavy impact, or

any combination of these and other factors.

Incidents have included:

a portal steel building collapsing during construction

a house being restumped sliding off its jacks while employees were under the house

a carport wall under construction collapsing onto sheltering employees during a storm.

Read more http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/preventing-structural-collapse

One of the ways principal contractors can manage the risk is by checking the stability of structures at each stage of the construction. They could also install lateral supports which can help the wall or building remain sturdy during construction.

Before constructing buildings, bridges or any structures a strategic erection plan must be coordinated, one which incorporates the construction sequence, rate of building erection and support required for the wall or building. There may be a need for lateral or temporary supports which should be included in the structural drawings of the building.

Also where structures are being erected, exclusion zones should be established to exclude unauthorised personnel and the public from injury in the event of a collapse. Only workers who are authorised and necessary should operate within these exclusion zones. Passers-by should be protected from injury at all times, if this had been done on the Melbourne site, the 3 pedestrians may still be alive today.

WorkSafe goes on to explain control measures that should be implemented as well as information about temporary bracing inspections:

Temporary bracing inspections

a competent person should inspect the temporary bracing arrangements and verify in writing the stability of the structure when the bracing is first installed.

A competent person should regularly assess the stability of the structure while temporary bracing is required. Inspections should be done at regular intervals, based on a risk assessment that takes into account the structure’s condition, environmental factors and length of time the bracing has been in place.

In addition, an inspection should occur as soon as possible after an extreme weather event or other incident that could affect stability.

Read the alert on:http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/preventing-structural-collapse

It is also important to engage a qualified and competent engineer to provide specifications to ensure that the structure is stable and construction workers should stick to this precisely, at the end of each day and at the beginning of every new phase of construction, it is more than a matter of construction safety, it is a matter of public safety as well.

If you’re new to construction, here’s an outline of the important construction safety induction course

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Death Toll Rises at Horrific Building Collapse

The building collapse that shocked the world occurred in Bangladesh last week and resulted in the deaths of over 400 people.

The tragedy was a startling reminder of the importance of ensuring the stability of structures.

The mayor of the Bangladesh municipality where the factory building collapsed has been suspended from office, according to an article on www.reuters.com

A government minister made the announcement that the mayor had been suspended while rescue workers continued to search for bodies in the wreckage of the collapsed building.

According to the article the scale of the disaster has prompted a worldwide outcry about poor construction safety. It has also prompted the world to examine the so called “slave trade” which was facilitated by the high demand for many popular Western brands.

Read what the article went on to say about the incident:

Relatives mourn as they look for a garment worker, who is missing after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in SavarThe scale of the April 24 disaster has prompted a worldwide outcry at poor safety and pay in many factories making clothes for Western brands, with Pope Francis on Wednesday likening the conditions of workers who died to “slave labor”.

The salvage operation remained slow despite the heavy machinery now being used to clear the rubble of Rana Plaza, in Dhaka’s commercial suburb of Savar, with a handful more bodies found on Thursday taking the death toll to 430.

“We are working here round the clock,” army spokesman Shahinul Islam said. “Rescue operations are taking time as everything is being done with utmost caution.”

Junior minister for local government JagangirKabir Nanak told reporters that Savar’s mayor, Mohammad RefatUllah, had been suspended for approving the construction of Rana Plaza.

A senior official from the state-run Capital Development Authority (CDA) said last week that the Savar municipality did not have the authority to grant the permit it had issued for a five-storey building at the site, and that three more floors had been illegally added to the building.

“We won’t spare anyone… actions will be taken against all who are responsible for the tragedy,” Nanak said.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/02/us-bangladesh-building-idUSBRE9410CU20130502

The article went on to explain that 8 people have already been arrested in relation to the tragic incident. The building’s owner, Mohammed SohelRana, and his father, Abdul Khalek, are among those arrested. A Spanish citizen, David Mayor is also wanted by police because he is also believed to be one of the owners of the factory.

According to media reports, there were approximately 3000 people inside the complex. Also the building was built on swampy land which is probably the main reason for the collapse. Around 2500 people were rescued however many of these were injured. There are also a lot of workers who have not yet been accounted for.

Sadly around 40 unidentified victims were already found and buried, many only recognising their family members at the cemetery during the burial.

Hopefully this incident serves as a reminder to the building industry across the world about the need for safety and importance of adhering to building regulations because shortcuts can result in catastrophic disasters like this one.

Another example where if the basics taught in the White Card construction safety course had been adhered to, there might not have been such an unfortunate outcome

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White Card Update : 2 Children Killed in Construction Accident

A tragic construction site incident in North Carolina has left many in a state of mourning after claiming the lives of 2 children.

The young 2 children, aged 6 and 7, were killed on Sunday in a rural North Carolina town after a wall at a home construction site collapsed onto them, crushing the innocent victims.

Emergency rescue crews worked through the night to recover the bodies.

According to reports investigations are underway to try and determine the reason for the collapse, whether it was negligence or some other factor. It was also not known whether those in control of the site were in possession of the appropriate certificates and permits for the work being undertaken.

Construction site collapses seem to be a very prevalent problem in the construction industry recently with many reports of crushing incidents being reported in the media. Read what happened this time with the article below taken from www.freep.com

ap-children-trapped-x-largeThe father of one of the children called 911 to report the incident at about 6 p.m., Lincoln County Emergency Services public information officer Dion Burleson said of the rescue effort turned recovery operation.

Neighbors stood by in disbelief as dozens of fire trucks spent hours trying to get to the 7-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.

“We worked as if they were alive,” Burleson told The Observer Sunday evening. “Times like these are very difficult. It’s devastating for the family and each and every responder.”

Crews at the Denver neighborhood placed a safety barrier around the pit and used shovels and climbing gear to try and reach the children, trapped about 20 feet underground, according to WSOC-TV.

Some 65 emergency personnel from several places, including nearby Charlotte, were on the scene.

A neighbor told The Observer that a family member building a new home at the site had been digging with a backhoe there earlier in the day. The children were trapped in the hole later when part of it caved in.

Burleson said an investigation was under way. He said he didn’t have information on construction permits at the site.

Source: http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/2062227

From the report above it appears that the children fell into a hole caused by the ground being disturbed and its stability being compromised by work done with a backhoe.

Although this tragedy is made even more sad by the fact that 2 young, innocent lives were lost, the same sort of incident could quite possibly occur on a traditional construction site if the proper precautions are not taken.

The area should have been barricaded so that pedestrians could be kept out however if the sites owner was not in possession of the proper permits, chances are they were not aware of site safety requirements either. This is a perfect example of why Australian legislation requires workers on construction sites to undergo general construction safety training in the form of the White Card.

The White Card Online is the best way to educate workers about the general hazards that they will come face to face with on construction sites and ensures that they have the practical ability to apply what they learn in training while working on the site.

Another example where if the basics taught in the White Card construction safety course had been adhered to, there might not have been such an unfortunate outcome

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