Worksafe Update
Chrystal Dias

With only a few weeks until the festive season, builders, sub-contractors and workers will be under pressure to get jobs completed prior to the holiday break.

The pressure to get the work finished often results in shortcuts with safety measures being ignored and duty-holders bypassing some of the fundamentals of a safe construction workplace.

Builders and sub-contractors need to ensure their supervisory staff are especially vigilant during these weeks to ensure site safety.  This can be done through site inductions, tool box talks or informal chats on site. Workers should also be encouraged to spend an extra five minutes to review safe work method statements (SWMS) before starting work.

As the weeks count down to the festive season, worker fatigue can also become an issue, particularly when working long hours due to extra hours of daylight available or during days of high temperatures. Fatigue can effect judgement resulting in workers making mistakes or not identifying risks.

Site and workplace safety over the holiday period – are you prepared?

Builders, site supervisors and contractors should also be starting now rather than waiting to the last minute to review and implement controls to make their sites safe for the upcoming holiday period.

Unattended construction sites can expose the public to significant hazards and risks, including but not limited to:

  • Being struck by collapsing site fencing or falling over, walking into or running into fallen fencing
  • Being struck by objects picked up by wind
  • Falling off partially built structures or scaffolding
  • Falling through unprotected voids and into open excavations
  • Being crushed by the collapse of incomplete or unstable structures
  • Electric shock from live power
  • Lacerations from sharp objects.

A thorough site clean-up, ensuring existing site safety measures are  up to date and appropriate site security is in place will go a long way in ensuring public safety over the holidays.

Site security fencing and gates should be inspected and defects should be rectified prior to the holidays. Additional bracing may be required to ensure the fence can withstand wind loads, especially fences with signs or where shade cloth is fitted.

Partially built structures such as walls and roofs need to be adequately supported and braced where required to prevent collapse or to handle bad weather. Voids in floors should be securely covered or the area barricaded to prevent access to public. Excavation, where possible, should be back filled.

Furthermore, equipment and machinery from the site should be removed or secured to minimise any risk of access by unauthorised people. Chemicals and potentially harmful substances should also be removed from the site.

The main switch to the construction electricity wiring should be switched off and the main switchboard locked. Uninstalled roofing and other loose construction materials have the potential to turn into missiles if not stored and secured correctly.

Be proactive and regularly remind workers that November and December are statistically high risk months on construction sites. Reinforce the potentially disastrous consequences of taking short cuts not only for themselves and their workmates but also to their families and friends.

Need more Information?

To read more about best safety practices in construction to help you and your workers stay safe over the holiday season, visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/construction

Contact WorkSafe Advisory at 1800 136 089.

 

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