No matter how many times you see it, it never ceases to amaze how a building can go from a hole in the ground to a beautiful structure that people for decades to come will use for their everyday lives. If you work in the construction industry, you’re well aware of the time, sweat and coordination that it takes to pull off a building like this.
Prior to the Christmas holidays WorkSafe inspectors focused on the risk of falls during construction work when they visited sites across Victoria.
Last year there were 2 fatal falls from height at construction sites in the state and recently a plumber suffered life-threatening head injuries after falling approximately 3.3metres through a skylight at a home renovation site.
All construction employers were reminded that they cannot afford to be complacent about managing fall hazards.
WorkSafe promised to prosecute employers for failing to protect workers from falls, even in cases when nobody is injured.
The grieving widow of fallen tradie Iremar Da Silva is calling for current workplace health and safety laws to be reviewed.
According to his wife Linda Moussa, the frequency of workplace deaths in Australia warrants a change to laws that currently favour big companies instead of workers.
Her husband was a formwork foreman who died after falling 3metres onto steel reinforcing starter bars on a Sydney construction site in 2016. He was one of 187 Australian workers who died on the job that year.
She warned workers to look after themselves if they work on a construction site because you cant trust your employer to look after you. She said in NSW companies held the power and workplace deaths aren’t given much attention.
The planning directorate for the ACT recently said the planned overhaul of the ACT construction industry intended to be completed by the end of the last financial year will not be completed until 2020.
In 2016, the planning minister Mick Gentleman announced a number of building reforms including measures to target “phoenixing” -the dishonest practice of liquidating assets and restarting under a new identity to avoid creditors.
The dodgy practice prompted the reforms which would introduce new minimum standards, compliance measures and licencing requirements for builders and certifiers.
Although 43 reforms were announced last year, the ACT chief planner Ben Ponton said only about half were completed, 12 months after the initial deadline.
Men working in the mining and construction industries are increasingly battling with depression and anxiety and according to statistics, they are taking their own lives at a rate never before seen in Australia.
Men’s mental health issues are perhaps a more pressing issue because of their unwillingness to seek help. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men between the ages of 15 and 44 in Australia. Men are also 3 times more likely to self-harm than women and 3 times more likely to take their own lives.
Every day 6 Australian men take their own lives, and this rate increased by 9 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
Queensland’s roadusers have been urged to keep calm and drive slowly through roadworks to ensure the safety of road workers.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Tony James said traffic controllers’ lives were being put at risk by aggressive driving from some motorists and those impatient drivers at roadwork sites.
Annually about 100 traffic controllers suffered a work-related injury requiring medical treatment or time off work and at least one person is killed each year on roadwork sites.
Checking routes in advance and allowing sufficient travel times to destinations would allow roadusers to avoid speeding and getting frustrated at roadwork sites where they have to slow down, Mr James advised.
Scientists at the University of Technology Sydney have found a way to protect buildings from earthquakes.
The researchers at the Centre for Built Infrastructure Research at the university discovered that existing synthetic geotextiles used within building foundations were the perfect solution against huge earthquakes.
The researchers say they’ve been searching for a viable solution because current options are expensive and seldom used.
Synthetic geotextiles are composed of polypropylene and polyester, found in plastic chairs and tables. This material comes in very tiny sheets and is strong and flexible.
Researchers found that the material is so strong that it wont break down under pressure but they deform, which makes it the most suitable for buildings in areas prone to earthquakes.
These scientists discovered that they could construct a much smaller and lighter foundation for buildings with soil wedged between several layers of geotextiles. This would reduce the size and cost of construction for concrete foundations and make them able to sustain much larger earthquakes without collapse.
The material makes the foundation of the building rotate and dissipate the energy of the earthquake, resulting in less energy transferring to the building. This means the damage to the building is less.
We’ve just entered the second month of the new year and there have already been 5 workplace fatalities in Australia, 2 of which were from the construction industry, according to figures from Safe Work Australia. These tragic incidents highlight an important issue for the construction industry, the need to not only keep productivity high but protect our most valuable resource, our workers.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start putting safety first. Safe Work Australia revealed that there was a slight improvement in workplace health and safety in 2018, compared to 2017, so progress is being made, however we still have far to go before every worker returns home safely at the end of the day.
In the construction industry safety begins with ensuring everyone on site is qualified to be there. Wherever you live and work in Australia, you must complete induction training before you can work in construction, so that you are aware of the hazards and risks, and know how to work in a way that does not present a risk to you or others. The White Card course is the mandatory construction induction course in Australia, but employers also need to ensure workers receive the relevant site specific training and task specific training. Also those involved in high risk activities must be certified to do so.
Construction Induction Training in A Nutshell
Whether you’re new to the construction industry this year or just need to brush up on your basic safety knowledge, the White Card course is for you.
For those entering the construction industry for the first time, you will need to complete the course (CPCCWHS1001 – Work Safely in the Construction Industry). Once you have completed the course, you will receive a little white card which is your proof of accreditation and allows you to work in the construction industry anywhere in Australia.
For those who want to re-enter the construction industry after some time or perhaps want to brush up on their knowledge, or are entering Australia and plan to work on an Australian construction site for the first time, the White Card will teach you all the basics of site safety.
Some of the topics you’ll cover in your course include,
how to identify WH&S requirements;
how to identify construction hazards and the necessary control measures;
how to identify WH&S communications and reporting processes;
how to respond to an incident.
The mandatory course is a federal workplace health and safety requirement for anyone working in construction or on a construction site.
The former site manager responsible for the site where 2 Irish construction workers were killed in November 2015 has been cleared of all charges by a magistrate.
The 2 workers died when crushed by a massive concrete panel.
WorkSafe alleged that the site manager’s dereliction of duty contributed to the death of the 2 workers because there was no exclusion zone set up in the area where the 2 were smoking when they were crushed by the falling concrete panel.
While the prosecutors also said the site manager had failed to ensure the order the panels were being unloaded from the truck did not cause a risk, the magistrate felt WorkSafe prosecutors had not proven their case beyond reasonable doubt.