Business is booming but are you taking care of business?

A report by the Australian Financial Review that a record number of cranes have hit the Australian skylines is great news for the construction industry. Is it good news for you and your employees?

According to the RLB Crane Index, the figure of 735 is a new high and is more than all of the cranes within the entire of the USA. This increase in commercial construction has been responsible for John Holland erecting its first crane in the Melbourne CBD for 15 years, and while this means growth in the sector is healthy there is concern that with this increase will come the potential for more workplace injuries and fatalities.

According to Safe Work Australia, falls from height account for 37%, over one third, of all workplace fatalities within the construction industry.

As construction booms and businesses get busy trying to meet deadlines this sense of urgency can mean that safety requirements may not always be met.

Sayfa's 8 point checklist

1. Let's start at the beginning

All great constructions begin with great design. If you are the designer as well as the builder you have a requirement under the WHS Act 2011* to ensure that "the structure is without risks to the health and safety of persons who use the plant". Put simply, safety in design, is a something that must be a consideration in your buildings to protect you, your company and your client from litigation should an accident occur.  Apart from the general building this must also include the provision of roof access and fall protection to enable equipment maintenance.

Please read our articles "Are you cutting corners with roof safety" and "How do you design a safety work environment?" for more information.

2. Keep up to date with Industry Acts, Codes, Standards and Guidelines.

With constantly changing regulations it can be difficult to keep up to date with all the processes and systems that you need to ensure compliance and to safeguard your workers. It is of vital importance that these regulations are adhered to and you may incur serious fines and shutdowns for failing to do so.

To ensure you are on top of all the requirements bookmark our Industry Information page for easy reference.

3. Assess the work to be undertaken.

What is the actual work that is being asked of your workers? Are you assessing, planning and preparing your workers adequately for the job? An important part of undertaking work safely is done prior to the work even being started. The worksite and activity must be assessed and then careful planning should be carried out to effectively minimise any associated risks or hazards.

A SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) is required to be completed prior to any high risk work being commenced. This includes work at height. Further information on SWMS and a copy of a SWMS template is located here.

equipment inspection

4. Conduct regular toolbox meetings.

Although not a requirement of WHS legislation, toolbox meetings are essential to ensure that all workers are aware of any hazards, system or procedural changes, and are working in sync with their co-workers and employers. They do not have to be any more complex than a five to ten minute talk prior to the work commencing but are an excellent way of conveying important safety instructions, changes in procedures or new work practices. They also provide invaluable opportunities for feedback and encourage discussions regarding workplace issues.

This link to Worksafe Queensland's template can assist with your record keeping.

5. Ensure that all your workers are correctly trained and supervised.

Unfortunately, many workplace accidents and fatalities are caused by human error. The more we train workers on the correct use of equipment and how to safeguard themselves on the worksite and take responsibility for their own safety, the less chance there is for an incident to occur.

Our article, "Are all your workers competently trained", gives guidance on what needs to be done to provide your workers with the best assistance to prevent injuries. Of special note are young and experienced workers who require as much instruction and supervision as possible.

Training apprentices

6. Conduct site audits often and regularly.

Conditions on site at the start of a project will vary greatly to those mid project and towards the final stages of a build. The frequency and regularity with which these audits need to take place will differ from site to site but should be undertaken as often as necessary to keep pace with the ever changing conditions.

7. Check your equipment.

Checking that your equipment is being operated and maintained to the manufacturer's requirements is vital. Scaffolding, harnesses and other height safety equipment must always be in optimum condition and constantly inspected for wear and tear. Due to the fact that equipment may be exposed to more extreme elements on the building site than normal it may be necessary to inspect them on a more regular basis than recommended.

Additionally, the workers who are using these types of equipment must be proficiently trained in their use and hold all necessary tickets and qualifications. The provision of instruction manuals for workplace equipment is also a valuable resource to ensure that they are able to perform the work correctly and are knowledgeable in its functionality.

8. Download our Working At Heights Manual.

Sayfa's Working at Heights Manual provides details for employers and workers on the measures that need to be in place to ensure safety when working at height. You will find further information on SWMS, Risk Assessments, Design Criteria as well as a Working At Heights Checklist and other valuable resources.

While there are other important requirements to be met to address risks when carrying out work at height on building constructions, we hope the above checklist assists you with your compliance and workplace safety.

Sayfa offer a FREE** design service which can take the stress and obligation away from you and enables you to eliminate residual liability.

We also conduct morning or lunchtime information sessions to educate your design teams to assist them in providing compliant height safety system design. They're FREE and we'll even bring the food. CLICK HERE for more details.

Should you have any other queries we are here to help. Contact the Sayfa team on 1300 301 755 or [email protected].

*Work Health & Safety Act 2011, Div 3, Section 26 (2) (b). **Conditions apply.