On average, there are 15,350 incidences of injury or disease on Western Australian work sites that result in at least one day or shift off work for employees. More seriously, 4,476 workers are injured on work sites every year to the extent that they require 60 or more days/shifts off work. And most tragically, 16 work related fatalities were recorded in Western Australia in 2019 – 2020. These statistics show that workplace safety is a significant and ongoing issue, and they highlight the importance of implementing preventative construction safety site measures.
If you’re a construction project manager or site manager, it’s up to you to take the right precautions and safeguard your workplace from unnecessary risks. Below is a list of measures to be taken to keep your construction site safe and avoid the pain and trauma of serious workplace injury or death.
1. Safety training
All workers are required to hold a current white card before they commence work on-site. Site-specific induction training should also be completed by each worker to point out any high-risk areas and provide instructions for emergency management. Each site should also have its own Health and Safety Representative, or HSR, in-charge of overlooking the health and safety policies and procedures. They to need training, as required by law, so ensure they’ve completed the appropriate Health & Safety Representative Course so they can fulfil their responsibilities.
2. Risk management and minimisation
It’s impossible to completely eliminate all safety risks on a construction site. However, many common safety issues can be avoided by conducting regular safety audits and having procedures in place to report, assess and address potential risks.
3. Site security
Restricted site access should not only be put in place to simply protect equipment from damage or theft. Security in and outside of work hours is integral to protect pedestrians from potential construction hazards. This includes supervision or authorised site visitors.
Strict security and safety protocols will also protect contractors from liability and negligence in the case of a safety incident or security breach.
4. Safe work method assessment
A safe work method statement (SWMS) must be prepared for all high risk construction projects before work commences. The SWMS should outline the scope of work involved, any potential safety issues, and how risks will be prevented and managed. By law, construction work must not commence until SWMS standards are met.
5. Ensure clear signage throughout the site
The site SWMS should be clearly displayed at the construction site so that all safety protocols are readily available, including a 24-hour emergency contact number and a map or directions to the site office. Visible signage should also indicate site amenities (such as toilets), entry and exit points as well as first aid and emergency fire equipment.
6. Entry and exit points
Separate entry and exit points should be established for construction equipment or vehicle access to increase pedestrian safety in high traffic areas.
7. Compliant chemical storage
Chemicals need to be stored very carefully to minimise fires, explosions, asphyxiation, chemical injury and pollution on worksites. Use high quality, compliant outdoor storage solutions such as explosive storage cabinets to safely store chemicals and to reduce exposure through spillage.
8. Properly constructed and maintained scaffolding
Scaffolding should only be erected by those with the relevant ticket. There should be no shortcuts or improvisations, and it should be built on stable ground with solid footing to eradicate the risk of it collapsing. Be sure to maintain and repair any damage or inconsistencies of the structure, as well as ensure that all employees using the scaffolding have an adequate level of scaffolding safety training.
9. Environmental conditions
Extreme weather conditions can cause serious safety hazards. Your on-site emergency plan should provide clear guidelines for workers who need to stop work in the event of natural disaster, severe environmental conditions or other emergency situations.
10. First aid
For the construction industry, it’s best practice to provide one first aid officer per 25 workers. You could also invest in first aid training in Mississauga to help prepare your workers for emergency situations.
11. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
In many situations an employer is obligated to provide PPE such as high visibility vests, safety goggles and safety harnesses to construction site workers. To find what PPE you are required to provide for a specific project, contact Safe Work Australia.
12. Equipment maintenance
Faulty equipment can create many kinds of hazards on a work site. It is important to ensure all equipment is maintained to the correct standard to avoid any such hazards through breakdown or malfunction. If you work with big machinery, such as Kubota tractors or excavators for example, it is best to have regular servicing and maintenance on those construction equipment to make sure they’re running smoothly.
13. Dropped objects
It is your responsibility to secure objects onsite and minimise the risk of them falling. Unsecured items at heights create serious hazards and are responsible for many injuries on site so it is important to follow the appropriate safety protocols to avoid this hazard.
Construction safety doesn’t end once the project is completed and your workers have gone home. All parties involved in the construction process have a responsibility to ensure that the right equipment and materials are used so that safety risks are avoided long into the future.