White card alert reviewing employers responsibilities in the construction industry

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White card alert reviewing employers responsibilities in the construction industry

  1. 1. White Card Alert:Reviewing Employers Responsibilities in the Construction IndustryIn this post we will revisit some of what we have already mentioned with regard to employersresponsibilities in the health and safety of workers on a construction site. While most employersare aware of their responsibilities, the number of incidents that occur annually are evidence thatsafety is being neglected on many construction sites.Part of an employer’s responsibility includes providing and maintaining safe plant, machineryand equipment. This is important to a safe system of work. Other factors that are crucial arecontrolling entry onto the site to avoid unauthorised persons from entering this dangerousworkplace. All construction sites should be separated using fencing, accompanied by theappropriate signage to indicate that the danger of entering the site.Other risks to control are preventing falls from heights or objects falling and injuring workers.Employers can do this by implementing plans to manage risks and ensuring that workers aretrained in this safety management.Another responsibility of employers is to develop and implement plans for the safe use,handling, storage and transport of chemicals as well as maintaining the workplace in a safecondition. This can be done by ensuring that fire exits are clear and unblocked, emergencyequipment is serviced and the work site is clean and tidy as obstructed or slippery floors canlead to slips and injury.The provision of adequate facilities is a responsibility that includes providing clean drinkingwater, toilet facilities and hygienic eating areas.There is no point in providing all the necessary safety precautions if workers are not aware ofthem. That is why training and education is so vital to maintaining a safe and healthy workingenvironment. Providing site specific training to workers involves proving information ofemergency procedures and exit routes etc. that are unique to the particular construction site.Workers also need to be trained on working on construction sites in generally. The White Cardtraining is now national and easily obtainable online.Additional responsibilities that are often overlooked by employers include adequately monitoringworkers health. By ensuring that your workers are healthy, you are ensuring that productivity on
  2. 2. the site is maintained and sick leave is kept to a minimum which positively affects your bottomline. Monitor workers health especially if exposed to specific hazards that can affect their health.The type of monitoring should correspond with the hazard they are exposed to. For exampleworkers who are exposed to high decibels of noise on a continuous basis should have their earstested regularly. Workers should undergo blood tests for if they are exposed to lead or otherhazardous materials. Workers involved with long hours, night shifts or transport should bemonitored for fatigue and sleep issues.Information relating to workers health including their medical records should be kept as they canbe useful in the future.The importance of hiring workers qualified for the job is often not looked at from a safetyperspective. Unqualified or inexperienced workers can affect the health and safety of otherworkers on the site. For example by allowing an unqualified or untrained worker to operate acrane would endanger the lives of all present, the same can be said of any machinery, plant orequipment that has the potential to injure or kill a worker.Because employees are on ground level, and are continuously coming into contact with varioushazards they can provide invaluable information and guidance to employers with regards tosafety. Employers need to listen to workers and consult with them on safety issues. Informationshould be provided to workers regarding new safety issues that may arise. This training andinformation must be in the appropriate language so that workers can understand. This trainingmust include providing information to workers about health and safety arrangements, includingthe names of those to whom they can make an inquiry or lay a complaint to. Finally another responsibility that employers often overlook is to inform new employees inwriting of the nature and dangers of the work they are about to undertake. Employers shouldalso ask new employees about any pre-existing injury or illness that may be affected by thework and inform them that failing to notify or hiding a pre-existing injury or illness which might beaffected by the nature of the proposed employment could result in that injury or illness beingineligible for future compensation claims.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- alert-reviewing-employers-responsibilities-in-the-construction-industry/?preview=true
  3. 3. White Card Update: Workplace Bullying RecourseWhile most of us acknowledge that workplace bullying is unacceptable workplace behaviour, weoften do not know how to react when it happens to us. Bullying almost always affects usemotionally and this emotional stress is often carried home to our families who are negativelyaffected by the bullying. Bullying can be dangerous as it affects a person’s mental health. Therehave been extreme cases of depression associated with workplace bullying, which eventuallylead to the suicide of the worker involved.But what recourse do we follow? What to do if it happens to you?I think I’m being bullied at work – what constitutes bullying behaviour?The first step is to determine whether the behaviour you’re being subjected to is actuallybullying? So what is bullying?According to WorkSafe, bullying is defined as, “Repeated unreasonable behaviour directedtoward a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety”.Some examples of workplace bullying may be very direct and obvious such as verbal abuse,insulting someone, spreading rumours or innuendo about someone, interfering with someone’spersonal property or work equipment while other acts may be more difficult to pinpoint such as,unjustified criticism or complaints, deliberately isolating and excluding someone, deliberatelydenying access to information or other resources, withholding information that is vital forsomeone to work effectively, setting tasks that are unreasonably above or below a worker’sability, deliberately changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to inconvenience aparticular worker, setting impossible deadlines and/or excessive scrutinising them. What to do if it happens to you!Your employer has a duty to provide and maintain a workplace which is safe and without risks tothe health of workers. This includes a workplace free of bullying.If you are bullied you can tell the person that they are behaving in an unreasonable manner andit is offensive and ask them to stop. If approaching them in a professional and calm mannerdoesn’t work you can seek advice from your Health and Safety Representative. You should
  4. 4. also keep a clear and accurate record of the events as they occur, such as the names of thepeople involved as well as those that witnessed the bullying. The records you keep should focuson the facts and you can use the WHS procedures of your workplace to report the incident.The emotional scars of bullying can have an affect you in the long run, so seeking professionalcounselling is advised if the bullying is particularly bad. If you want you can try talking to peopleyou trust at your workplace such as a supervisor, manger, health and safety representative,union representative or someone from human resources.You may decide to lodge a written complaint to your employer. Allow the process to run itscourse. Avoid the bully during this time and avoid any confrontations.If workers and employers work together they can route out workplace bullying and avoid tragicsituations such as depression and suicide that are often routed in workplace bullying.There are often circumstances where people in positions of authority abuse that authority andbully their subordinates. Bullies are emotional terrorist who often insecure so they bully others tofeed off others fear. This may not always be the case of superiors, some may just have anabrupt or confrontational attitude, while others may genuinely abuse their power. Someexamples of bullying by superiors are:  Unreasonably overloading a person with work  Setting timelines that you know are very difficult or impossible to achieve,  Expecting a person to perform tasks beyond the training, knowledge or capability  Ignoring or isolating a person, purposely making a person feel left out  Deliberately denying access to information, training, consultation or resources but providing to other workers  Unfair treatment in relation to awarding leave or training, or other things that workers are entitled to.Employers and supervisors have a right to give you instructions of work to do, as long as theyare reasonable and done in a professional manner. They also have the right to move you,demote you, assess your work and give you guidance if they feel your work is not up tostandard, this does not constitute bullying. To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/workplace-bullying-a-victims-recourse/
  5. 5. Highlight on Crane SafetyA number of incidents involving cranes occur each year on construction sites. This incident inGlasglow has highlighted the need to prioritise crane safety in construction. The Dailyrecord.co.uk reported:Police officers, safety inspectors and firefighters at the scene where the worker died in GlasgowA MAN has died and another has been seriously injured after an industrial accident at a city-centre construction site, the ambulance service have said.Emergency services remain at the scene of the incident where a crane reportedly collapsed inBuchanan House in Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, at about 12.30pm today.A spokeswoman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said the man was confirmed dead at thescene and another has been taken to the citys Royal Infirmary for treatment to a head injury.Strathclyde Police said staff have been evacuated from the building as a precaution.The building, which houses offices for Network Rail and Transport Scotland, has beenundergoing refurbishment work.Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/06/20/worker-dies-and-second-seriously-hurt-after-crane-collapses-at-building-site-in-glasgow-86908-23898545/A similar incident occurred during a construction job when a crane operator used a crane toposition a H-Beam for piling with a vibro-hammer in an excavated pit, causing the crane to fallinto the excavation pit, fatally injuring the operator involved. An interesting article in Highwaysindustry.com had this to say:Why it happened;The 50 ton crane was being used to position two Hbeams using a vibro-hammer. The total load(vibro hammer and beam) has been established to be 8.7tons. The load was assumed at thetime of the incident to be 7.5 tons.The safe working radius for a 9.0 ton load was 12m according to the manufacturers load charts.The toppling radius would have been 14m.
  6. 6. The first H-Beam was successfully put in position at a 10.15m working radius which was withinthe crane manufacturer’s 12m safe working radius.The intended final position for the second H-Beam, at 14.6m, was outside the safe workingradius. The second beam was to be ‘parked’ temporarily, close to the first beam (at a radius of11.15m), to allow the crane to be moved to a new location.the operator was instructed to lower the H-beam (wire down) at its temporary position. Heresponded by lowering the crane boom rather than by ’wiring down’ and did not respond toinstructions to stop lowering the boom.The boom continued to be lowered past the tipping point of the crane (14m), passing both theintended temporary, and final locations for the H-Beam. The final impact point of the H-Beamwas found to be at a radius of16.35m.On further investigation it was found that:The work was being carried out under a generic method statement for the sheet piling. Thepositioning of the H beams and the safe working distances were not mentioned in the methodstatement. The lift was treated as a Low Risk Routine lift when in fact it was High Risk lift as thecrane was required to move with the load.The Lifting and Hoisting SME appointed by the Project Management Contractor was not fullyaware of the lift procedures and requirements.The underestimation of the load weight meant that the safe working radius and tipping pointwere over estimated by 2m.The safety devices on the crane failed to prevent the crane from toppling. The most likelyexplanation is that the safeguarding was functioning correctly and triggered an auto-cutoff whenoverload conditions were reached but the momentum of the boom and load being rapidlylowered caused the crane to topple into the excavated pit.The deceased was an experienced crane operator. He had not been passed as ‘Fit to Work’ asa crane operator but he had been passed as fit to work as a foreman.Underlying causes on why the operator continued to lower the boom and why he failed torespond to instructions are unknown.Read more: http://www.highwaysindustry.com/News/Safety-SA0016The crane in this incident had safety devices fitted, however they failed to prevent the cranefrom toppling over. The operator, although experienced was unable to prevent the crane fromoverturning, claiming his life.The movement of large loads is essential in the construction industry, so it is crucial thatworkers in this industry involved in crane activities are well trained and safety orientated to avoidany hazards.
  7. 7. There are different types of cranes each with their own advantages and each presenting theirown risks. 1. Mobile cranes are mounted onto rubber tires which enable them to be transported throughout various job sites. Some designs have tracks which are similar to those found on tanks. These tracks enable the crane to be mobile. In fact mobile cranes can even move while holding a load, as opposed to other cranes which must remain stationary. Mobile cranes can be transported via helicopters, truck beds or even boats for use at sea. 2. Tower Cranes. Often used for the construction of high-rise buildings. This crane is strictly stationary since it has a bolted on base connected to concrete pads.Workers need to be trained and cautious when working with heavy machinery and particularlycranes. Workers need to pay attention to safety before productivity. Ensuring that a load isproperly secured before lifting and not lifting over workers are just some of the steps workersneed to take in order to ensure safety when working with cranes. To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/highlight-on-crane-safety/
  8. 8. Most Common Injuries on Construction SitesSome of the most common causes of injury on a construction site involves falling hazards,electrical hazards, working with cranes and machinery and working from scaffolding. Falling HazardThe most common occurrence of incidents on construction sites involve workers fallingaccording to statistics provided by authorities. This type of hazard also causes the most seriousinjuries. Extreme caution must be administered when working from a height, especially a heighthigher than 2 meters. Workers need to be aware of your surroundings and take note andcaution of slippery boards on scaffolds and walkways, missing guardrails, openings in floors andpenetrations that are not correctly protected. Report all openings or missing railings so they canbe corrected as soon as possible.Relating to the hazard of falling is the issue of scaffolding work. When work from heights cannotbe eliminated, the use of scaffolding is necessary. To comply with the applicable scaffoldingregulations, all persons erecting or altering scaffold must be competent and certified to do so.All scaffolds must be erected in compliance with statutory regulations and such scaffold andaccessories must conform to regulations. Any damaged planks must be removed, kickboardsmust be secured in place and guardrails installed.Mobile scaffolds present their own hazards, in that they are frequently used and must beerected as per regulations. They should be fitted with wheel locks which must be in placewhenever people are working on the scaffold so that it doesn’t roll causing a fall.All scaffolds should have an internal ladder for access. Climbing of scaffolding standards shouldnot be allowed and tools and equipment should not be left lying around unattended on scaffoldsas they tripping hazard they present can be compounded by a fall from a height.Personal Protective Equipment is the form of Safety helmets must be worn at all times whenworking from a scaffold. Workers must be provided with a safety helmet which must be worn atall times.
  9. 9. Electrical HazardThe occurrence of electrocutions on construction sites is a prevalent danger that requiresattention. This is a hazard that can be minimised if workers follow the correct safety andpreventative procedures as most cases of electrocution are caused by a form of negligence.As far as electrical installations are concerned on sites a qualified electrician must carry out allrepairs to equipment and electrical installations, including repair and replacement.The basic rules to remember are to keep electrical leads off the ground and on stands and donot hang leads from scaffolding. Do not use double adaptor fittings or overload adaptors.Replace all damaged leads, wiring, equipment or installation and report faults immediately.During rainy weather covers must be provided for equipment exposed to the elements, if coverscannot be provided then equipment must not be used as electrocution can result.Workers should not touch wires or cords that they are unfamiliar with especially if they don’tknow whether it is live or not. Explosive-Powered ToolsThe very nature of this tool makes it a hazard. These tools use an explosive charge to firefixings into concrete, steel and timber, and, like a firearm and therefore they are potentiallylethal. These can only be operated by trained persons, who are wearing the correct safetyglasses and hearing protection. Signs must be placed in the area of operation of this equipmentto warn passers-by of the danger they present. These tools should not be left unguarded andespecially not in a loaded condition. All explosive-powered tools must be inspected andmaintained on a regular basis as all machinery should be. They should be locked away whennot in use, they are dangerous and are a loaded weapon in the wrong hands. CranesJust last week another worker was crushed by a crane on a construction site. This occurrence isonly too common of late. It is important that only authorised certificated operators will bepermitted to operate cranes. Crane Operators and Doggers must work in close terms with eachother, each should know what the other is doing, and they need to co-operate and communicatein order to avoid dangerous situations. Crane Doggers should be directing crane operators only.Irresponsible behaviour m,ust be avoided such as riding the load which is strictly prohibited.Slings, ropes and chains are to be checked on a daily basis and monitored for any signs ofwear. Workers must keep their hands clear of pinch points and away from slings on loads, asthey can easily become caught. Loads must be correctly slung and workers should never standunder loads, this is another reason workers get crushed by the load. Crane and mobilemachinery operators must check clearance of electrical power lines when setting up oroperating as the danger of electrocution is very prevalent. Any defects with cranes, machineryand associated gear must be reported to those in charge immediately.
  10. 10. By following a few simple rules, workers on construction sites can minimise the risks associatedwith this dangerous work. White Card and Site specific training is the most important tools in thearsenal of construction employers in ensuring that their workers are aware of the hazards andknow how to respond to them successfully.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- update-most-common-injuries-on-construction-sites/

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