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A large proportion of workers and employers may report following safety procedures at work, but it’s the 2 to 20 per cent who don’t that can cause havoc.

A new Safe Work Australia report titled ‘Work Health & Safety Perceptions: Construction Industry’ has drawn on six existing Safe Work Australia data sources and one Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data source to examine work health and safety (WHS) in the construction industry.

“The 2009 MAPS survey measured how consistently specific safety practices were undertaken in the workplace,” the report says.

“Almost 90 per cent of workers in the construction industry reported that particular safety practices were followed in their workplace most of the time or always.

“These included removing hazards as much as possible (93 per cent), making work practices safe (92 per cent), using PPE (90 per cent) and identifying health and safety risks (89 per cent).”

However, the WHS Perceptions survey 2012 report revealed a different outcome. “The results were somewhat different, particularly for the use of PPE (90 per cent in MAPS compared to 79 per cent in WHS Perceptions), removing hazards as much as possible (93 per cent in MAPS compared to 85 per cent in WHS Perceptions) and making work practices safe (92 per cent in MAPS compared to 84 per cent in WHS Perceptions),” the report says.

According to the report, the WHS Perceptions survey showed that construction employers were more likely than workers to report that safe work practices were followed most of the time or always.

“Almost all employers indicated that PPE is used most of the time or always in their workplace, as well as making work practices safe (98 per cent each),” the report says.

“Over 90 per cent of employers indicated that, in their workplace, hazards are removed as much as possible, health and safety risks are identified and health and safety concerns are discussed either most of the time or always.”

But even if 98 per cent of people are following safe practices, it only takes the few who don’t to create a risk for themselves and everyone else.

For more details, visit the report

Published on 26 February 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Contractors must commit to managing drug and alcohol risks to win bids for Victorian Government construction projects.

The new guidelines came into effect this week.

For construction projects over $10 million, tenderers must include an outline of their drug and alcohol management plans and commit to providing a project-specific work health and safety (WHS) plan when bidding for projects.

In outlining the management of drugs and alcohol, tenderers must include the medical tests and thresholds that the contractor will use to test for drugs and alcohol. People selected for testing and the frequency of testing are among other criteria that must also be included.

The head contractor must submit the WHS management plan before the project begins.

For construction projects under $10 million, contractors still have to ensure drug and alcohol and WHS policies are in place. Contractors will also be audited for compliance.

For more details see the guidelines.

Published on 3 July 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A UK building company has been prosecuted after a worker was burnt and placed in an induced coma.

The worker was “removing electrical equipment from a basement wall on 1 August 2012 believing it all to be safely disconnected”, when he severed a 415-volt electrical cable, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said in a media statement.

He sustained severe and extensive burns, was in an induced coma for two weeks, and hospitalised for several weeks, and continues to live with psychological problems and pain, the HSE added.

The HSE investigated the incident and found that Acton-based “Dray Building Ltd had failed to provide suitable signage highlighting the live cable, had failed to provide barriers around the work equipment for other suitable safety measures. Had these requirements been met, then the accident could not have happened in the way that it did”.

Dray Building Ltd of Dephna House, North Acton Road, London was prosecuted in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court for breaching UK construction regulations.

It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £9,882 in costs.

For more detail, visit the HSE.

Published on 23 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

WorkCover NSW inspectors are two weeks into a six-week blitz targeting commercial construction sites across Sydney and parts of regional NSW.

Under scrutiny are a number of high-risk activities, such as multi-level scaffolding, emergency evacuation, cranes, hoardings, working at heights, and excavation.

The blitz comes after the recent Barangaroo fire, other construction incidents and calls from Unions NSW (on 13 March) for the state government to audit all major building sites in light of these incidents.

On 14 March WorkCover NSW launched the blitz. “In the past 18 months there have been three high profile incidents in the commercial construction sector involving scaffolding and tower cranes, however, it is important to note there has been no common link between the causes of these incidents,” WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson said.

“This blitz will target … specifically those sites involved in the construction of multi-level buildings.”

WorkCover NSW is also meeting with “all major contractors to inform them of the detail of this High Risk Commercial Construction strategy and to make clear to the industry our expectations in relation to the action they need to be taking”, Watson added.

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW

Published on 27 March 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The federal government’s bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) is before another Senate Committee for further scrutiny.

The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 was initially vetted by a Senate Committee late last year.

On 2 December the Committee’s government members recommended that the bill pass the Senate. However, the ALP and Greens members concluded that the bill should be rejected.

Among the ALP’s concerns was the bill’s proposal to extend the reach of the ABCC’s powers to picketing, offshore construction and the transport and supply of goods to building sites.

“This proposal would subject industries beyond the building and construction industry to unnecessary legislation and judicial complication, which could in theory lead to disengagement of the logistics industry from the building and construction industry proper,” the ALP’s dissenting report said.

The Greens also recommend rejecting the bill. “The [first] ABCC was biased in its work as it was driven by an ideological attack on construction workers and unions,” the Greens’ dissenting report said.

“Further, in recent years Australia’s construction industry laws have been condemned by the International Labour Organization six times. For these reasons the Australian Greens reject the bills in their entirety.”

Since then the bill has been re-referred to another Committee to re-examine the government’s approach to re-establishing the ABCC.

According to the second Committee’s terms of reference, this includes assessing “the extreme and heavy-handed proposed powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, including coercive powers, conduct of compulsory interviews, and imprisonment for those who do not cooperate”.

The bill was referred to the second Committee on 4 December. Submissions are due tomorrow, with the committee expected to report on the last sitting day in March.

For more details, visit the second Senate Inquiry.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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