Healthstyle’s Manfred Wolscher talks about the importance of wellbeing

Brendan: welcome to Episode 11 of the Health and Safety Business Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the director of OHS.com.au and also your host of the show. Today, I’m here with Manfred Wolscher from HealthStyle. Good day, Manfred. How’s it going?

Manfred: really well. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Brendan: it’s great to have you on the show. Tell me a little bit about what HealthStyle does?

Manfred: we’re a workplace health provider helping and assisting companies around the country to achieve better health for the people or in other words help them to thrive in their lives.

Brendan: so it’s a wellbeing company?

Manfred: it’s a wellbeing, workplace heart. What incorporates that we help organizations in devising their wellbeing strategy first and foremost. We’ve got a whole range of health improvement programs. They range from health checks, health education, we do e-learning programs as well as healthy media.

Brendan: wellbeing a few years ago is a bit of a dirty word. Has that changed over the last, how has the industry changed? I was a little bit involved in the sort of the mid-forties with wellbeing and it was a really tough product to sell. How has it changed over the last 10 to 15 years?

Manfred: it’s a good question. I don’t think it has changed a lot in terms of selling prevention. It is still very difficult although where we look at the safety where you come from is they’re certainly a development and a move in the right direction. Thinking about 20 years back where manual handling was a dirty word and now it’s just part and parcel of business as usual basically. Safety is integrated. Everybody understands it and compliance is good yet we have got a bit coming back to that wellbeing is a bit of disconnect here between safety and wellbeing. What people understand about wellbeing is perhaps not how we try to educate people. It’s an interesting thing. Wellbeing, everybody thrives with wellbeing aren’t, for wellbeing, feeling good, feeling energetic, feeling mentally like positive and so forth but wellbeing is a much broader, much more global sort of expression. It’s interesting.

Brendan: does that mean when you’re going to see clients you don’t use the wellbeing word? What is the trigger for, tell me about a typical client and why they would jump on and embrace your program. What are the trigger points?

Manfred: the trigger points initially is that companies ask themselves why do we want to have a healthier workforce basically. The why is critical. Often it’s not the case because companies, management or the board and saying like yes, we need to do something because company X ask something. We look good and tick the box yet I think when it comes down to really working out where they want to go, how does it align with the business objectives then it becomes interesting. Wellbeing, they go like we just thought we do mental health, look at employment assistant program. That is not really what they need at the end of the day. That is when we come into play and assist them, better understand where they see themselves in five years, 10 years’ time.

Brendan: how do companies typically dip their toe in the water so to speak? What would be a typical program for a company that has nothing? Where could they start? What are some easy wins?

Manfred: I think the first one would be identifying the why as I have just indicated before. That is important. It might be just that they go you know what? We need to reduce our workers compensation claims. That could be one. Another one could be general absenteeism costs are just too high. How do we reduce that? Looking at those objectives where to start is creating a health risk profile for the organization. That is what we like to see first stop. There is no guess work. What is going on? How healthy is our workforce? How well is our environment playing a role in supporting our workforce? What is in terms from the organizational risk what are the guidelines to allow people to live healthier lives? Coming back again a health risk profile would be the first step.

Brendan: that therefore creates a baseline for an organization and then at a latter point you’re able to go back in and measure again to see what differences the program has made.

Manfred: initially it might be a health risk profile. You can combine it to go like you know what? We provide health assessments for our people, health checks. They create a baseline profile itself. Maybe we do the same thing in a year’s time. In the meantime we’re looking at the data and may identify issues around mental health, issues around people just not move enough, issues around leadership. It does not have to be always directly related to just wellbeing but at the end it is isn’t it.

Brendan: I would imagine when you’re first going into some organizations there may be a degree of skepticism from I don’t know, from workers or maybe management or what are the types of things, what are the easy wins that you have to do first up to get I guess the call phase on board because I would imagine you need participation. When you have participation and then…

Manfred: I think that divides from our competitors. We always aim for high participation. How to achieve that? There’s a number of things we’re trying to get right. It’s not always working for a number of reasons but the first process when we engage with an organization is the access process, to looking at organizational risks, to look at capability of the organization, very important. That is that everybody is onboard from management to the supervisors, to the HR department as well as WHS and so forth. Another one is the environment. We’re looking at the environment. What sort of role does the environment play allowing a wellbeing program to flourish, to be successful? These are important parts and then the next one is the planning phase. We’re looking at the same things again and how we can assist to build better procedures and guidelines around the organizational guidelines. We look at health and to build capabilities, internal capabilities. Our biggest goal for a company’s system in the long run is to build internal capabilities so down the track, in the five years’ time know what they’re doing. That is the objective and that has proven with companies as Mars Australia. They know what they’re doing. We still assist them. We still come up with ideas because it’s an ongoing integrated process.

The next phase will be then helping the organization to collect some data, to get some idea where everything stands, where the workforce sits. We tried to leveraged up those points of influence which is the organizational part, which is the environment part but also the personal. If we get all those three avenues of influence correct, the program sets itself up to be very successful. Of course then you roll out, you implement the programs in the next stage. As ongoing stages evaluation, we evaluate the program’s feedback for a number of reasons. For looking at their return of investment situation so build a case study to have further programs implemented in the near future.

Brendan: how long has HealthStyle been going for?

Manfred: we founded HealthStyle in the end of 2012. We’re a relatively young company. Coming back in particular Andrew Pitkin who pretty much is the brain child of these of programs. There’s a whole range of programs which we’re very proud of we have created and developed and achieved award winning programs. That came originally from years back with Greatest Asset. We worked together and became good friends and just made it a passion of ours to help companies and people achieve better health.

Brendan: I guess there’s a lot of workers out there that if they’re not given that assistance is like having a coach. If they don’t have access to the coach then maybe they don’t have a chance to get healthier.

Manfred: exactly right and often when you look at programs chosen by companies it’s courses for courses. Sometimes certain things work. Sometimes not. To keep a workforce healthy in a long-term it has to be ongoing.

Brendan: it’s not like you can do one thing and then you can be healthy forever.

Manfred: you know Brendan if you want to lose weight if you don’t have the support from your wife, from your family, from your peers and build an environment at home allows you to do your exercises, eat well it’s not going to happen but often those to take them to the next stage and become yes, I’m buying some shoes now. That is the first step. Once you have got the shoes I start to walk and then eventually to run and then eat better and so forth.

Brendan: when you’re turning around I guess a habit it’s a series of little wins really isn’t it? Like that is what gets the momentum starting to happen.

Manfred: exactly right. I think that is key because we’re inundated in our society now with all those quick fixes in terms of diets, in terms of exercise programs. Guess what? It’s basically in the long run very little chance to succeed because it’s not sustainable. It has to be sustainable and it has to be fun, joy, that you go out there. This is cool and get those wins as you say it before like the small wins and get up in the morning, more energized. Don’t push them too hard to the next level, just enjoy the moment. Once they understand learn how to feel good again then you take them to the next stage, next level.

Brendan: are these programs actually done in the workplace or are they is it like coaching systems that they do outside of the workplace or is it a combination of both of those things?

Manfred: it’s a little bit of combination of both of them. When you look at manual handling we do as well. The platforms that we use is the one on one like have the group there sitting down and do a workshop. Work with them hands on but there’s other ways we do it on the e-learning platform where people use that as a competency based education based program which is effective. It’s quick. They can do it at their own time, on the mobile phone, on iPads, etc. there’s a number of ways you can educate people and run programs. Ideally when we look at the workplace health programs ownership is critical. You do it yourself. Everybody should be taken on a journey. That is important. The ownership has to come from within the organization. They have to run the show basically. We can’t do it. Other providers can’t do it because the support and the commitment is just simply not there. If it’s not there other business priorities would take over and then it ran slowly into the sand but if this becomes part and parcel that is who we are, that is our culture. In all regards it will be quite successful and I can assure that we see that over and over again with a lot of positive and great feedbacks and great stories.

Brendan: are there any particular sectors that are more open to these kinds of programs than others. Where does HealthStyle play typically?

Manfred: we’ve got a whole range of programs or clients and partners in the manufacturing industry and energy sector and the corporate sector right across. I don’t think you really can’t pinpoint certain industries are more likely to run meaningful programs. It’s more like how the board, management, what their objectives are. It always comes down I would think to the CEO of an organization. If there’s a vision there then it goes and it runs. It’s a top down approach. Later on it’s a top down, bottom up. It’s where you take everybody on board.

Brendan: are you able to share with us a program, I mean you don’t have to name the client but tell us a little bit of how the organization changed and how long it took and did it make a change on financial like a bottomline level?

Manfred: yes. Perhaps a good showcase story is Mars Australia. We’re looking at 3000 people. There’s all different business centers. You’re all aware of Mars has got Mars Food, Mars Petcare and so forth, a whole range of manufacturing places around the country. It’s worldwide. It’s a privately owned company. I think that is perhaps a little bit advantage because they can put their own personal standpoint as they like it. Years ago, maybe five, six years ago when we got in contact, even longer with Greatest Asset we did already some work. There was nothing. They had no structure, no wellbeing idea and objective and slowly we just did a pilot project, just a small piece and demonstrated it works. Engagement was so so but as it evolved the second pilot project then suddenly there was a lot more engagement. The company learned how to find those champions to run the show so to speak and then build a wellbeing committee who was or is responsible for any rollout of that sort of initiatives.

When you look at that company now it’s amazing. As I have pointed out before they’ve got their internal capabilities. They know what they want. It’s fantastic to see. Participation rate is 75%, 80% in whatever initiative we do. They’re ready. They know their outcomes. Their return on investment is an absolute no brainer. Right across the board when you look fruit vegetable consumption has increased significantly. The incidents slips and falls, alertness is totally different. They’re factory settings. This is just a high risk sort of environment. That went hand in hand then with the safety procedures and the safety requirements and wellbeing, fatigue management programs etc. where it was needed. The cost have decreased and so has workers compensation.

People are just a lot more aware and quite competitive. We have business centers in there that love it. We have a health check which is a high performance health check and people love it. These whole departments they’re all on board and they want to beat each other. It’s competitive. It’s fun. Yes, their return on investment is they just go on and on every year so it’s fantastic.

Brendan: I’m going to wrap up the session now. I just have some quick questions for you. How old are you Manfred?

Manfred: 54.

Brendan: you must be doing your own program mate, you’re looking great for 54. Second question is what do you do to keep fit?

Manfred: it’s a good question. I have changed a little bit. My approach, I understand in my age you don’t recover as quickly anymore. That is not really a problem for me. I do perhaps three sessions a week but very short 10, 15 minutes two sessions. A CrossFit type session or a hit program on a circuit basis and one centering run like number of runs of course. That keeps me fit. I think I’m as fit as I was 20 years ago.

Brendan: how many hours of sleep are you getting on average per night?

Manfred: definitely eight hours. I need minimum of eight hours.

Brendan: you’re prioritizing your sleep.

Manfred: absolutely.

Brendan: do you have any personal goals that you’re looking to achieve in the next 12 months?

Manfred: not really. Perhaps in terms of our business that we want to take to the next level because we’re passionate about it. We love what we do. Otherwise I’m perhaps in my happiest phase in my life.

Brendan: there is nothing more you want for.

Manfred: one thing there is, I plan a heli-skiing sort of holiday in a few years’ time so I need to keep fit and stay fit and take my boys to heli-skiing.

Brendan: what business achievement do you think you’d like to be most remembered for?

Manfred: just what we do, the lives we changed. I will not take one example. There’s hundreds of examples where people pat you on the shoulder and go like, thank you so much. You actually saved my life. That is powerful. Just a few weeks ago I was in Albury at one of the factories. We did some health checks and that person said, you perhaps not aware of. I would not be alive if HealthStyle wasn’t involved. That was powerful. I don’t want to go in detail but it’s true. We get this over and over again. It’s just there at the right time.

Brendan: great work.

Manfred: thank you.

Brendan: if people want to find a little bit more about HealthStyle how can they find you online?

Manfred: it’s http://www.HealthStyle.net.au. You’ll find information on there. We are on LinkedIn and Facebook as well and Twitter. You can find HealthStyle.net.au. You can find us.

Brendan: thanks very much for coming in Manfred and if you have been enjoying the podcast don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and also share it around with your friends. See you next time.

Manfred: thank you.

Can You Do the RIIWHS204D Working at Heights Course Online?

If a work environment requires employees to work at heights, the employer is responsible for providing necessary training to reduce the risk of injury. Workers need to know how to take the right precautions for preventing accidents and reducing the chance of severe injury from falls.

The RIIWHS204D is a requirement and failure to meet this requirement may result in fines and penalties for the employer. If you want to meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, you should find out how to complete the necessary training.

What Is the Training Requirement for the RIIWHS204D?

When choosing a training provider for the Working at Heights Course, only approved providers should be chosen. The provider must be nationally accredited and working with an RTO approved by ASQA and with the RIIWHS204D unit of competency on scope.

There are also specific requirements for assessing the competency of students. When you complete the course, your assessor needs to meet industry regulations for certification. The assessment is required for you to obtain your Statement of Attainment.

The government recommends that the assessment is performed in the sector’s work environment. If you work in mining, for example, the assessor should base your assessment on knowledge related to your industry.

Assessors are also required to have a certain level of experience in the industry of the worker being assessed. For example, when assessing workers who work in the civil construction industry, the assessor must have at least five years of experience.

Students do not have any training requirements. There are no prerequisites for completing these training courses. Any worker that works at heights should have access to the necessary training. However, providers often recommend that students possess basic English literacy skills and numeracy skills.

How Is the RIIWHS204D Training Delivered?

Training is available online and face-to-face. However, to obtain the actual unit of competency for RIIWHS204D, you must complete the course practical in-person. These courses are typically delivered over an eight-hour day, including the face-to-face training and the assessment.

While the standard full course takes eight hours to complete, the total time may vary, depending on the number of participants. If there are fewer than four students, the course time may be reduced slightly. If there are more than 15 students, it is common for the course to last a little longer.

Online training is sometimes recommended as a refresher or for new participants to grasp the theories. However, these online courses will not provide participants with the accreditations offered through the face-to-face training.

Why Do You Need to Complete the RIIWHS204D?

The RIIWHS204D replaces the RIIOHS204A certificate for Work Safely at Heights is designed to teach participants how to work safely from scaffolding, ladders, and other equipment or settings that include a risk of injury from falling.

The courses include a combination of practical training and theory to teach you the basics of working from heights safely. You may learn how to assess the safety of equipment and which steps are necessary for reducing the risk of injuries, such as the proper use of anchorage points or protection equipment.

The RIIWHS204D is recommended for anyone who works at heights. This may include those who are involved in drilling, mining, extraction, and civil construction.

How Much Does the RIIWHS204D Training Cost?

The average price for RIIWHS204D training is $255 and completed in one day. However, providers may charge any reasonable fee for these courses. In Sydney, there are several providers that offer the course for $230 per student. In Melbourne and Brisbane, the cost may vary between $220 and $270.

Providers may offer a discount to employers that require group training. If more than one employee needs to complete their training, group training is often more cost-effective and efficient.

What Will You Learn with the RIIWHS204D?

After completing the practical skills and theory portion of the one-day training course, participants will be assessed. The RIIWHS204D assessment is necessary to demonstrate the participant’s competency.

Some of the skills that you need to demonstrate include accessing and interpreting technical and safety information for working at heights. You also need to assess the risks and hazards associated with working at heights and the methods for controlling these risks.

During the training course, you will also learn how to identify the required safety systems for your work environment. This may include the use of fall protection and associated equipment. You will also learn how to determine whether this equipment is properly fitted, adjusted, and anchored.

Understanding the names and functions of various safety equipment and components is also essential. You may need to comply with the specific instructions and specifications of the equipment manufacturers to comply with safe work methods.

Using various height applications, these courses often include practical exercises involving ladders and other equipment. You will learn fall prevention methods and how to estimate fall distances and clearances.

It should be mentioned that participants should possess a reasonable level of fitness. These training courses require hands-on training. Many providers also recommend that you wear sturdy footwear, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants.

What Accreditation Will You Get?

After completing an approved Working at Heights Course, participants are awarded several accreditations. They receive the RIIWHS204D certificate, along with a Statement of Attainment and a wallet-sized card.

The RIIWHS204D is a requirement for any worker who will be working at heights. If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your workers receive the necessary training. If you are a worker, you should ensure that your employer provides access to these training courses.

Summary

Working Safely at Heights Course must be completed face-to-face. These courses typically last for eight hours and involve a combination of practical hands-on training and observational training. While online courses are available, they are mostly intended for providing a refresher on the topics covered in the course.

The bottom line is that working at heights includes the potential risk of falling. To improve worker safety conditions, it is essential that all workers learn the basics of assessing safety hazards, using proper fall protection equipment, and inspecting equipment.

What Is HSR Training and Can It Be Done Online?

Health and safety representatives (HSRs) primary role is to represent employees within their workgroup to the PCBU on health and safety matters. To meet these responsibilities, HSR training in most states of Australia needs to be provided if requested (except Queensland where it is now mandatory).

If you are an HSR, team leader, supervisor, or manager, you should ensure that you understand the role of the HSR and how to obtain the necessary HSR training through approved training courses.

What Is the Training Requirement for HSR Courses?

HSR training is now mandatory under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011  in Queensland only. Companies and organisations may elect health and safety representatives to represent the health and safety of the workers.

There are several training requirements for training providers. Organisations that choose to offer HSR training must offer face-to-face courses so that HSRs can learn from each other.

Providers also need to accommodate different learning styles. They also need to ensure that their course is safe and comfortable for all participants, regardless of their age, gender, culture, language, or any disability.

How Is the HSR Training Delivered?

HSR training is delivered face-to-face over the course of five days for the initial training. The curriculum and the details of the training course can vary. Different providers may devise different training courses but to be eligible the training must be delivered over 5 days as prescribed in the legislation.

Some training providers may also decide to deliver the training over a longer period, instead of delivering the training over five consecutive days. However, the individual blocks of time cannot be less than one day. Excluding breaks, each block should last 7 hours for a total of 35 hours of training.

Online HSR training is available. However, online training is not suitable for meeting the powers of a HSR as part of the WHS act. Individuals who have already completed the five-day training program may take one of the online courses as a refresher.

Many training providers also offer one-day refresher courses that can be completed face-to-face or online. HSRs are entitled to take this refresher course once each year to remain up to date with their responsibilities as an HSR. Although these rights are prescribed in legislation, the reality is employers typically  decide whether or not the training is undertaken – not many employees would be game to issue a cease work order or provisional improvement notice because of the potential fallout it may cause to one’s career.

Why Do You Need HSR Training?

According to the WHS Act, specific occupations require a workgroup to elect a health and safety representative. The HSR is responsible for ensuring that the working conditions are safe for the individuals in his or her workgroup and reporting back issues to the PCBU.

Is HSR Training Mandatory?

Queensland is the only state under the WHS Act where the training has become mandatory. Previously, the Queensland WHS Act did not require HSR training. However, new laws were enacted that went into effect in July 2018. These new laws now make HSR training mandatory for HSRs. In fact, after being elected an HSR, representatives have six months to complete the necessary training.

These courses teach HSRs the skills and knowledge needed to represent the safety of their fellow workers. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, HSRs are entitled to attend HSR training upon request. After being elected an HSR, they may notify their employer that they want to attend their initial five-day training.

It should also be noted that HSR training is required for an HSR to receive the full powers of their role under the WHS Act. For example, completing this training allows an HSR to issue provisional improvement notices (PINs) and to direct work to stop until a safety issue is addressed or resolved.

How Much Does the Average HSR Training Course Cost?

The average cost of HSR training can vary depending upon the jurisdiction. There are many training providers that are approved to offer the five-day HSR training courses. These providers must be approved by their State or Federal regulator and may choose their own fees for the training courses.

In Sydney, there are several providers that offer five-day courses starting at $650 for each participant. Similar prices are available to HSRs in Melbourne, where the average cost of the five-day course is about $800. Prices tend to be a little lower in Brisbane, where courses may cost as little as $600.

Many training providers also provide discounts for group training. During certain times of the year, these training courses may also be offered at lower prices. The cost of the refresher courses also varies between providers.

What Will You Learn During an HSR Training Course?

HSRs learn a variety of techniques for inspecting the safety of their workplace and addressing safety issues. Most of this training revolves around the proper procedures for notifying an employer of potential safety hazards.

During the training, HSRs commonly learn information and skills related to the interpretation of the WHS legislative framework. You will learn how to identify key parties and their obligations.

HSR training also provides the skills needed to establish safety representation in the workplace and participate in the consultation. By completing these courses, HSRs are prepared to deal with the resolution of safety issues.

These training courses often include practical exercises in a variety of areas. HSRs will learn how to complete workplace safety inspections and accompany a WHSQ inspector during inspections. They also learn how to properly represent their workgroup in all safety and health matters.

HSRs are also responsible for monitoring the compliance of safety measures and investigating any safety and health complaints from workers in his or her workgroup. HSRs also learn when and how to direct workers to cease work in unsafe conditions.

The five-day training course also prepares HSRs for utilising their powers. Under the WHS act, HSRs may issue provisional improvement notices. A PIN is a written direction from an HSR requiring the responsible individual to address a safety issue. These PINs are only issued when an agreement to resolve the issue cannot be reached through normal consultation.

What Accreditation Will You Get?

Completing the HSR training does not provide any accreditation. These are non-accredited courses designed to provide general knowledge and skills for HSRs. While these courses are required for HSRs to utilise their full powers under the WHS Act, and are often delivered by RTOs, the course does not result in a Nationally Recognised Statement of Attainment. Typically a Certificate of Completion or Attendance will be issued.

Beyond the HSR training, some organisations and employers choose to require HSRs to complete the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety. This program is accredited and provides participants with a qualification. It is generally considered more inclusive compared to HSR training and helps HSRs understand how to respond to safety incidents with proper emergency procedures.

Why training matters in today’s workplace

In June last year, the assistant minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews announced a major review of the legislative framework governing regulation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector, saying that the review will look at whether Australian Skills Quality Authority’s (ASQA) legislative powers enable the agency to effectively protect students, employers and the public against providers that don’t meet quality standards.

According to Andrews the independent review supports the Australian Government’s significant improvements to the quality and reputation of the VET sector.

“A review of the NVETR Act will determine if the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has appropriate legislative capacity to efficiently and effectively regulate the sector,” said Andrews.

“Professor at Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance Valerie Braithwaite is leading the review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (NVETR Act) and I expect a report by the end of 2017.

“The regulator must have powers to act swiftly to protect students, employers and the public against providers that don’t meet high quality standards and it will also evaluate if ASQA’s functions and powers are consistent with best regulatory practice and how well the system meets the needs of industry and students.”

“Any changes to strengthen ASQA’s regulatory approach will fuel the Government’s efforts to maintain a high-quality VET sector that works for students, employers and taxpayers,” said Andrews.

So what is VET?

Vocational education and training (VET) is an important part of any industry as it enables people to gain qualifications for all types of employment, and specific skills to help them in the chosen profession.

The are a number of providers of VET courses including TAFE institutes, adult and community education providers and agricultural colleges, as well as private providers, community organisations, industry skill centres, and commercial and enterprise training providers. It is provided through the federal government states and territories that work together to ensure that training courses are consistent throughout Australia.

It’s important to understand that when undertaking VET that it’s done through a registered training organisations (RTOs) who is registered by ASQA to deliver VET courses and services. If the RTO is not registered with ASQA, inadequate training may compromise health and safety.

Currently there are 5000 RTO’s recognised as providers of quality-assured and nationally recognised training and qualifications.

ASQA say there are a number of advantages of registered training organisations including:

  • deliver nationally recognised courses and accredited Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) VET qualifications,
  • apply for Australian, state and territory funding to deliver vocational education and training.
  • Certificates I, II, III and IV
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • Vocational Graduate Certificate
  • Vocational Graduate Diploma.

What are RTO’s and what role does ASQA?

RTO’s are also regulated by ASQA in accordance with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012. Accreditation means the course is nationally recognised and that a registered training organisation (RTO) has the authority to issue a nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) qualification or VET statement of attainment following a courses full or partial completion. The Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 include the course design standards that must be met for accredited which is regulated by ASQA.

The Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012 apply to all courses regulated by ASQA, including those courses that were accredited by referring state and territory course accreditation bodies prior to 2011.

The Industry and Skills Council has also endorsed the Standards for VET Regulators 2015 with the purpose of the standards ensuring:

  • integrity of nationally recognised training by regulating RTOs and VET accredited courses
  • consistency in the VET regulators’ implementation and interpretation of the standards applying to RTOs and VET accredited courses, and
  • accountability and transparency of VET regulators.

Under Australian legislation the Standards set out by the Industry and Skills Council require ASQA to:

  • use a risk-based approach to regulation, implementing processes that are fair, transparent, responsive and consistent and which uphold the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness
  • use auditors and accreditation assessors who meet agreed competency requirements
  • develop and implement a code of conduct for auditors and course accreditation assessors to ensure contemporary best practice approaches to regulation are used
  • assist RTOs to comply with the Standards for RTOs 2015and provide information to the sector on emerging risks
  • manage the scope of registration of all RTOs so that only current training products are delivered
  • publish decisions to impose sanctions on RTOs, together with the reasons for the decisions
  • accept and manage complaints about RTOs, and about ASQA’s role as a regulator, using publicly available processes
  • report and respond to requests from the Industry and Skills Council
  • make service standards publicly available, and regularly review their performance against these service standards and the regulator Standards.
  • analysing complaints about RTOs, and
  • engaging with industry, industry regulators and other VET regulators.
  • less regulatory intervention, while those that are considered higher risks are subject to more frequent intervention.

 

Alertforce are recognised as one of the leading VET training centres in Australia. They offer a number of training courses in asbestos management and removal, fatigue management, working from heights, traffic control plus many more WHS courses designed to ensure workplaces are safe. https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

Meeting WHS needs for an older workforce

The Australian workforce is changing, albeit slowly. Life expectancies are longer than ever so people are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Changes to the official age of retirement have also impacted on decisions to continue working.

But what do older workers bring to the workplace and are there any WHS issues that need to be addressed?

Without doubt older workers offer considerable benefits in the workplace. They contribute an enormous amount like dedication, maturity, punctuality and honesty, are organised and detail-oriented, focused, attentive and lets not forget the main one; they have years and years of experience. We may live in a youth driven culture but experience carries a lot of weight to it.

But in saying that, there are a few issues that WHS professionals need to address when employing an older person. Older employees can be more susceptible to certain kinds of injuries and illnesses, bearing in mind that health and fitness affects people at different ages and at different times, so its more about personal evaluation rather than an across the board approach.

According to guidelines published by the West Australian government on older workers there are some practical WHS considerations required for ageing employees.

Workers’ compensation statistics indicate that the most common causes of injury among older workers include:

  • Fractures, crushing injuries, contusions and disorders of the spinal vertebrae and other muscles, tendons or soft tissue;
  • Sprains and strains, indicating muscular stress is a common problem;
  • Falls, slips and trips.

Employers, they say still need to provide a sufficient duty of care for older workers, which may involve adapting work practices to suit the needs of an ageing workforce. Employers still need to provide a sufficient duty of care for older workers, which may involve adapting work practices to suit the needs of an ageing workforce including:

  • Identifying or re-evaluating workplace hazards or risks from the perspective of older employees at your organisation;
  • Surveying employees to discover problems they’ve identified, helping you develop an awareness of age-related health and safety factors;
  • Using survey results for finding and control hazards for ageing employees, and for developing a range of WHS strategies;
  • Conducting pre-placement discussions with employees to evaluate their needs and abilities;
  • Continuously communicating and consulting with workers about their needs and responsibilities;
  • Liaising with other health and safety officers to find the best systems and maintain consistent approaches and standards;
  • Continuously monitoring and reviewing workplace practices
  • Seeking medical advice where you don’t have the knowledge to assess more complicated health issues

The capabilities of each individual should be as closely aligned to the demands of the job wherever possible says the WA Government.

Arrange work tasks after considering all hazard factors, ensuring that individuals still have sufficient control over their work so they can make decisions about how to tackle and complete tasks. Individuals should also be given flexibility, where possible, to vary the timing of there own rest breaks to meet their own needs. Rest breaks can help compensate for differences in physical performance capacity and work should be scheduled to reduce risk factors.

For example older workers can experience greater difficulties in coping with tiring shift work. Redesigning shifts can reduce employee fatigue levels and minimise associated risks and problems.

They go on to say that workloads and work intensity should be constantly monitored. Work for example that involves a high work rate for extended periods is often stressful and can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Workloads should be set with an understanding of how long it takes to achieve the desired quality, not just the quantity of work output needed.

People of all ages need time to adapt to changing requirements. When making changes to tasks says the WA government, equipment or other work factors allow workers time to change and adapt. Strength and fitness takes time to develop no matter what age, so performance demands should be set lower while workers are learning and adapting to new work requirements.

Older employees can still safely perform manual handling tasks, however the government suggests changes may need to be made to achieve a safe system of work. The weight and size of objects should be reduced where possible, distance between the object and the person lifting should be reduced and mechanical lifting equipment should be used where practical.

Workplaces can be rethought and redesigned. Changes can include things like increasing light levels, reducing glare, reducing noise levels, eliminating hazards that cause slips, trips and falls, reducing exposure to extreme temperatures by decreasing exposure or providing PPE, increasing visibility of task related objects or information.

The West Australian government says postural demands can be reduced by changes to equipment and procedures. Employers can also choose to support flexible employment conditions such as job sharing and part-time work so older workers reduce their risk of injury. Older workers have a great deal to offer their employer and with these suggestions the needs of the older workforce can meet and all that knowledge and experience can bring amazing benefits to any business.

 

Don’t leave your employees’ safety and business success to chance. Invest in the proper work health and safety training to ensure that your employees are best equipped to create a safe and productive workplace.

Alertforce have been providing high quality nationally recognised training for many years. Our short courses educate and up-skill workers and keeps your workplace safe from injury. Enquire today.

Australia’s National Asbestos Profile

In November 2017, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency released two important documents at the annual summit in Canberra reporting on Australia’s work towards the country being asbestos free.

The first one was The Progress Report, which highlights a series of case studies from across Australia to show how the work supporting the National Strategic Plan is delivered and the second one, and first of its kind in Australia, was the National Asbestos Profile.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency says the profile follows the template developed by the World Health Organisation and International Labour Organisation and draws on best available research and data sources to provide a historical perspective on past exposures to asbestos, as well as information on the current management of asbestos in Australia.

The ASEA says the profile provides information on the consumption of the various types of asbestos, populations at risk from current and past exposures, the system for inspection and enforcement of exposure limits, as well as the social and economic burden of asbestos-related diseases.

The document supports Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness and over time will be used to measure progress made towards eliminating asbestos‑related diseases in Australia.

The National Asbestos Profile highlights the industries affected by asbestos including the estimated total number of workers exposed to asbestos in Australia and industries where exposure to asbestos is present in Australia and those industries with the largest number of workers potentially exposed to asbestos.

According to the report exposure to asbestos occurred in a wide range of occupations and industries, with the report finding there is no data to estimate with any accuracy the total number of workers exposed to asbestos in Australia. It goes on to say that historically, asbestos exposure occurred among workers who worked with raw asbestos, mining and milling it or processing it in textile or asbestos cement factories and subsequently, other workers who used the manufactured asbestos product were exposed, including carpenters, plumbers, insulation installers and automotive mechanics. The report also found that specific occupations recording high numbers of exposed workers included workers at Wittenoom, power station workers, railway workers, shipbuilders and navy workers, stevedores, boilermakers, carpenters and joiners, builders and builders labourers.

Since 2003 the use, reuse and selling of any type of asbestos has been prohibited, but the AESA says the country is left with a legacy of past consumption, with many asbestos products remaining in situ today, primarily in the built environment, which means the risk of exposure to asbestos continues and affects not only workers, but also the general population.

“The entire Australian population is exposed to background levels of asbestos with significantly lower fibre concentrations on average,” says the ASEA.

“The total number of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia between 1945 and 2015 is approximately 16,800. However, not all of these cases are a result of occupational exposure and this figure does not include other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos.”

The ASEA has established a national voluntary register to record the details of members of the community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos, including what they call non-occupational settings i.e. home renovators etc.

Since its commencement in June 2013 and up to July 2017, there have been 5,898 registrations and although the registrations do not record confirmed exposure, the data says the ASEA may be a useful indicator of actual or potential exposure events and trends across Australia.

So based on the ACMs that still exist in Australia, the workers at risk of exposure to asbestos are:

  • building and construction workers
  • asbestos removalists
  • telecommunication and electricity providers
  • waste and landfill operators
  • carpenters
  • plumbers
  • painters
  • electricians
  • boilermakers
  • fitters and machinists

The ASEA say the mining industry may also be at risk of exposure due to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos.

The report looked at the National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS), which contains information on workers’ compensation claims

that involve work-related disease and found between 2008–09 and 2010–11, that 63% of compensated mesothelioma claims and 73% of compensated asbestosis claims were made by tradespersons and labourers.

As Australia was one of the highest users per capita in the world of asbestos products, the implementation of regulatory controls for workplaces, which has been happening across the country since the 1980’s, has meant the removal of asbestos materials has been carried out by licensed businesses with personnel trained and equipped to carry out the work in a way that minimises potential for occupational and environmental exposure.

The AESA suggest the now troubling aspect of asbestos for the Australian community is the evidence that shows an increasing proportion of mesothelioma cases are arising from non-occupational exposures or so-called third wave exposures that are generally associated with low-dose asbestos exposure or short term high-dose exposures and include disturbances of asbestos while living in or renovating a home containing ACM.

“The NAP provides a useful tool for other countries to learn more about the impact asbestos has had on Australia for past, current and future generations.”

 

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

 

Traffic management in and around construction sites

Construction sites are busy places. Not only are HGV, powered mobile plant vehicles, forklifts and cranes commonplace on site and require traffic management but around the site deliveries and general traffic has to be managed especially if the works are in a residential or commercial area.

Managing traffic in and around construction sites is an important part of ensuring the workplace is without risk to workers and the general public. Vehicles move in and around the workplace, reversing, loading and unloading are often the leading cause of death and injuries to workers and members of the public.

According to Safe Work Australia the most effective way to protect pedestrians is to eliminate traffic hazards, which they say can be done by designing the layout of the workplace to eliminate interactions between pedestrians and vehicles include prohibiting vehicles from being used in pedestrian spaces.

However on some construction sites this is not possible but with traffic management systems in place and the correct training, controlling vehicle operations and pedestrian movements can be managed to ensure safety is the priority.

WorkSafe Australia say the key issues to consider for managing traffic at construction workplaces include:

  • keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart including on site and when vehicles enter and exit the workplace
  • minimising vehicle movements
  • eliminating reversing vehicles or minimising the related risks
  • ensuring vehicles and pedestrians are visible to each other
  • using traffic signs, and
  • developing and implementing a traffic management plan.

Prior to commencing work in traffic management, site managers must ensure the correct training has been provided and that untrained persons do not operate vehicles on site. Accidents are more likely to occur when untrained or inexperienced workers operate vehicles on construction sites.

The role of a traffic controller ensures the following says SafeWork Australia:

  • Providing separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route.
  • Creating pedestrian exclusion zones where powered mobile plant is operating.
  • Creating vehicle exclusion zones for pedestrian-only areas, for example around tearooms, amenities and pedestrian entrances.
  • Securing areas where vehicles and powered mobile plant operate by installing pedestrian barriers, traffic control barricades, chains, tape or bollards. Where needed ensure a competent person with
    the necessary training or qualifications directs powered mobile plant when it operates near workers or other plant.
  • Designating specific parking areas for workers’ and visitors’ vehicles outside the construction area.
  • Providing clearly signed and lit crossing points where walkways cross roadways, so drivers and pedestrians can see each other clearly.
  • Using traffic controllers, mirrors, stop signs or warning devices at site exits to make sure drivers can see or are aware of pedestrians before driving out onto public roads.
  • Avoiding blocking walkways so pedestrians do not have to step onto the vehicle route.
  • Scheduling work so vehicles, powered mobile plant and pedestrians are not in the same area at the same time.

The traffic controller must also ensure that when vehicles are moving on site there is minimum risk. Traffic management plans ensure that there are controlled entries to sites and the number of vehicles on site at any one time is managed.

Reversing vehicles are the major cause of fatalities so it’s important to create one-way road systems and turning circles. If the site is restricted and turning circles are tight, traffic controllers must ensure that reverse systems like alarms, sensors, cameras and mirrors are used at all times. It’s also about informing co-workers where vehicles might be turning and ensuring the area is clear.

Signs are really important on site and are used to alert workers and pedestrians to potential hazards from vehicles entering and exiting the construction site and pedestrian exclusion zones.

It is imperative to safety that a concise traffic management plan is documented and traffic controllers are able to manage the plan.

SafeWork Australia suggest a traffic plan should include the following

  • designated travel paths for vehicles including entry and exit points, haul routes for debris or plant and materials, or traffic crossing other streams of traffic
  • pedestrian and traffic routes
  • designated delivery and loading and unloading areas
  • travel paths on routes remote from the workplace including places to turn around, dump material, access ramps and side roads
  • how often and where vehicles and pedestrians interact
  • traffic control measures for each expected interaction including drawings of the layout of barriers, walkways, signs and general arrangements to warn and guide traffic around, past or through the workplace or temporary hazard
  • requirements for special vehicles like large vehicles and mobile cranes
  • requirements for loading from the side of road onto the site
  • the responsibilities of people managing traffic at the workplace
  • the responsibilities of people expected to interact with traffic at the workplace
  • instructions or procedures for controlling traffic including in an emergency
  • how to implement and monitor the effectiveness of a traffic management plan.

Its important to  note that the traffic management plan should be monitored and reviewed regularly including after an incident to ensure it is effective and takes into account changes at the workplace. Site inductions should also include the traffic management plan.

 

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers traffic control courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information on traffic control courses visit https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/trafficcontrol/

Safety first when working at heights

The recent death of a young tradesperson in Queensland is a tragedy and highlights the importance of training and safety when working with Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs).

EWP’s are mobile items of plant equipment designed to lift or lower people and equipment by a telescopic, hinged or articulated device, or can be combination of these from a base support. There are three types of EWP’s commonly used on construction sites in Australia, including scissor lifts, an articulating boom lift and a straight boom lift. They are efficient pieces of equipment when used correctly but safety training is imperative, in fact it is a requirement that people or persons operating an EWP are licensed operators.

There are risks associated with EWP’s and in recent years there have been fatalities on sites across Australia. Those working on EWP’s usually understand the risks they pose to people on the ground however, what’s often not fully considered is the increased crush risk to workers from the EWP platform or within the basket says the Elevating Work Platform Association Australia (EWPA).

Before operating an EWP, the EWPA suggest a thorough task, site and equipment specific hazard and risk assessment is carried out. This may include consideration of the height, reach, crush or trapping hazards, safe working load, ground conditions and terrain, restricted working space and any electrical hazards, including overhead power lines. There is also a safe work method statement (SWMS), which must be developed and followed for operating an EWP. The EWPA says measures to control crush risks must be documented in the SWMS.

Regulations that must be adhered to when working on or operating an EWP include:

  • Workers must stand on the floor of the EWP only, not on the handrails or items such as ladders, scaffolding or boxes either placed on the platform floor or on the handrails.
  • Various secondary-guarding devices may help prevent crush or trap injuries, depending on the type of EWP and work being done.
  • Sensing device: a device activated by force or pressure that stops the movement of the EWP to minimise harm. If there are plans to fit a secondary guarding device to an existing EWP, it must have a specific engineering risk assessment including consultation with the designer/manufacturer/ supplier to determine whether there are any impacts on design registration and to ensure any proposed changes do not introduce new safety hazards or negatively impact the operation of the EWP.
  • Before using EWP’s, training must be provided about the functions, safe work methods and emergency procedures. For a boom-type EWP, where the boom length is 11 metres or more, the operator must hold a High Risk Work Licence.

Across Australia each Work Safe organisation will have standardised regulations around operating and licensing of EWP’s. They will also have a minimum standard of training. For example in South Australia training was developed after two workers, on separate accidents, were crushed to death on the site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital while operating an EWP.

SafeWork South Australia says the elevating work platform minimum standard of training was developed as a result of a recommendation by the Elevating Work Platform Working Group (a sub-committee of the Industrial Relations Consultative Council), which has representatives from the South Australian Government, unions, the building industry, training organisations and the EWP Association. The minimum standard of training was developed they say to clearly specify the expectations of SafeWork SA, regarding the provision of elevating work platform (EWP) training by persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) pursuant to section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act).

There is also a minimum requirement of training that SafeWork SA say is required and WHS inspectors can measure whether an operator has been adequately trained to operate an EWP.

SafeWork SA says if a WHS inspector forms a reasonable belief that the worker has not been adequately trained to operate an EWP, the inspector may issue a compliance notice for additional training to occur.

Similar to the crane sector where a dogman is required for the tower crane operator, a spotter can be required to ensure the safety of an operator when working close to power lines, exclusion zones or other hazards. It is a requirement of the WHS Act in all states and territories to ensure safe work practices are being carried out. Appropriate supervision is based on the level of risk and the experience and competence of the operator.

There are hundreds of EWP’s in use on construction sites across Australia, and most are used without incident but when it goes wrong, it can result in serious injury and death so operator training is crucial to saving lives.

 

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers working from heights courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information on working from heights courses visit https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/working-at-heights/

Who’s responsible for asbestos management?

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s troubling to think that in the last week in NSW alone, there have been two serious incidents involving possible asbestos exposure.

Residents in the Sydney suburb of Chester Hill woke one morning this week to find almost 10tonnes of construction debris dumped in a local street. There was no explanation for the dumping and testing of the material is still being conducted.

SafeWork NSW have also issued a very stern warning to the Blue Mountains City Council this week about buildings in their care that contain asbestos and are accessed by the general public including a child-care centre.

SafeWork NSW have launched a full investigation into the asbestos management practices at the council and the NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean issued a statement saying the investigation came about after SafeWork NSW was contacted about alleged asbestos mismanagement at several council-managed workplaces in the region.

Kean said he’d directed SafeWork inspectors to conduct a full and thorough investigation into these disturbing allegations adding this is a very significant step but it’s absolutely warranted as the number of asbestos discoveries in the mountains, and council’s poor asbestos management, are alarming.

To date SafeWork inspectors have issued Blue Mountains City Council with notices in relation to asbestos discovered in:

  • a council-owned building operating as a pre-school at Wentworth Falls
  • large waste piles at the council depots at Lawson and Katoomba
  • buildings at Springwood council depot
  • leaf litter at the rear of the yard at a council-owned building operating as a pre-school in Katoomba
  • Lawson Library ceiling
  • the ceilings and walls at Warrimoo Citizens’ Hall; and
  • the fireplace at Heatherbrae Cottage at Lawson.

In July this year, a council spokesperson told local newspaper, the Blue Mountains Gazette that in response to notifications of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) on a worksite and community buildings, Council acted in a timely, open and appropriate manner to the satisfaction of SafeWork NSW and council’s independent expert consultant.

A council spokesperson said the classification of ‘high risk’ by the consultant does not suggest there is clear and present danger at these locations.

“Rather the classification is applied to those locations at which a risk of exposure would be considered high in the event of ACM being disrupted. As the ACM is being managed appropriately at these sites this is not the case.”

The council went on to say the safety, health and wellbeing of community and employees was paramount and they take asbestos management seriously.

So who is responsible and what role do they have when it comes to asbestos removal and management?

According to SafeWork NSW’s Asbestos Blueprint: A guide to roles and responsibilities for operational staff of state and local government, published in 2011, there are very defined roles for SafeWork NSW, emergency service teams and local government.

For SafeWork NSW this involves liaising with Fair Trading NSW and the Australian Consumer and Competition Authority (ACCC) regarding the recall of asbestos products as well as Australian Customs and Border Protection Services on the import and export of asbestos materials. Safework NSW also conduct investigations into asbestos management of a person conducting a business or undertaking at a place of work whether for gain or profit under the OHS Act as well as Licensed asbestos removal work under OHS Act 9.

In the case of Emergency Services Organisations they will respond to emergency incidents where asbestos may be present, and will determine the extent of asbestos contamination arising from the emergency in liaison with Fire and Rescue NSW (HAZMAT).  They will also provide communication about asbestos contamination information to other organisation attending the site, including the recovery committee, local council or property owners at time of handover. It is also the responsibility of the ESO when they have responded to an incident and identified asbestos to advise local council and the Environment and Protection Authority. They must also regulate the disposal of asbestos under the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act. 2.

Local Councils are responsible for the management of asbestos in residential premises (excluding oversight of removal work), and the management of the removal from domestic premises of non-licensable quantities and work not involving a business or undertaking. It is their responsibility to record existing asbestos site contamination on section 149 certificates & local government asbestos registers. They must also manage the illegal dumping and orphaned asbestos waste (excluding oversight of removal work), and provide the correct recovery operations following an emergency situation, if a site is handed over to the Council or local residents by an emergency service organisation (excluding oversight of removal/remediation work).

There is a duty of care when it comes to the management of asbestos particularly with its removal and disposal. Australia was, until recently, one of the largest users of the product in the construction of commercial and residential buildings and contamination from asbestos is a public health issue that governments at all levels take very seriously.

It is worth looking at SafeWork websites in your state or territory for further information on what your role is when it comes to asbestos management.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Why are WHS laws important when working in construction?

Construction sites are extremely busy places with many subbies working side-by-side completing various tasks. The work is strenuous and generally involves heavy lifting and working from heights. Heavy vehicles come and go off-site all day and often there are tower cranes or all-terrain cranes operating in and around the site. It is an environment of productivity but also high-risk.

It is also an environment where consultation, cooperation and coordination are essential to ensure the health and safety of everyone on site but not only so that injuries and deaths are prevented, but as a requirement under the model WHS Act.

Construction work can be defined in many ways. Essentially its any work carried out in connection with the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting-out, commissioning, renovation, repair, maintenance, refurbishment, demolition, decommissioning or dismantling of a structure, or preparation of a building site.

In 2015 an industry profile was complied by Safe Work Australia who found the most common work-related injuries experienced by workers in the construction industry were:

  • cuts and open wounds (31%)
  • sprains and strains (21%)
  • chronic joint or muscle conditions (16%).

It was found that these injuries were mainly due to:

  • hitting or being hit by an object (31%)
  • lifting, pushing or pulling objects (30%)
  • falls from a height (15%).

According to WorkSafe Australia, when it comes to work-related fatalities, the statistics from the Construction Industry Profile show that between 2003 and 2013, 401 workers died on construction sites in Australia, with the majority of those (28% or 112 workers) involving falls from heights. They included:

  • 40 involved ladders, mobile ramps, stairways and scaffolding
  • 32 involved a fall from a roof
  • 17 involved buildings under construction or demolition.

Other fatalities during this period were made up of:

  • vehicle collisions 16%
  • electrocution 15%
  • being hit by a moving object 12%
  • being hit by a falling object 11%
  • being trapped between or in equipment 8%
  • other causes 9%

Site managers are responsible for each step of the process on site and that includes safety, but before work even commences commissioned the site must comply with WHS regulations. This means consulting with the designer of the build about safety matters and giving the designer and the principal contractor for the project information about safety matters.

It is law in Australia that a PCBU who carries out construction work must manage and control WHS risks associated with that work, and ensure a construction site is secured from unauthorised access.

The principal contractor for the project is also a PCBU and under WHS law must be aware of the WHS duties that apply says Safe Work Australia.

Australia has a strict code of safety for construction sites and a very powerful union with the CFMEU but there is also the model Code of Practice for Construction Work, which provides practical guidance to achieve the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the model WHS Act and Regulations.

In order to carry out construction work, it is a requirement to complete an introductory safety-training course called ‘general construction induction training’ or as it is commonly called ‘white card’ training.

Under the Australian WHS Act, a PCBU must also make sure every worker has completed white card training, including those who have completed training in the past but have not carried out construction work in the last two years. Once a person has completed that training they may apply to a WHS regulator for a white card. It is important to note that each state and territory in Australia has different requirements and state recognition for white card training so its always advised that you check with your state or territories Safe Work website. However, white card’s issued in one state or territory or by the Commonwealth are generally recognised Australia wide. Some types of construction work such as operating certain types of cranes or carrying out scaffolding work do require a high-risk work licence.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 has identified the construction industry as a priority due to the high number and rate of work-related fatalities and serious injuries. Safe Work Australia recently reviewed the first five years of the plan with recommendations for the next five years.

The Strategy is aiming to reduce the incidences of serious injury by at least 30% nationwide by 2022, and reduce the number of work-related fatalities due to injury by at least 20%.

Since the Strategy launched, Safe Work Australia and all states and territories have been working collaboratively with the industry, unions, relevant organisations and the community to reduce traumatic injury fatalities and injuries in the construction industry.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers white card training in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information about white card training courses visit https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/whitecardtraining

The asbestos awareness checklist and what you need to know

Its currently Asbestos Awareness Month and asbestosawareness. com.au have launched a campaign aimed at people who work in the building sector and home renovators titled ‘Go Slow! Asbestos – it’s a NO go’.

Although asbestos products were banned in the 1980s for use in commercial and non-residential properties, it continued to be used in multiple locations prior to December 2003. There are strict requirements regarding the management control and removal of asbestos from any building with asbestos.

Under the Work Health & Safety Act 2017(WH&S) it is a mandatory requirement that those with management and control over the work place, develop and implement a definitive and effective framework to ensure the health of workers and others are not put at risk.

Asbestosawareness.com.au have a number of online fact sheets including a Handbook, which has been developed in line with the WH&S Act, the Codes of Practice; How to manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace, How to Safely Remove Asbestos and the Work Health and Safety Consultation Cooperation and Coordination.

According to Asbestosawareness.com.au most asbestos incidents happen when somebody disturbs asbestos because it hasn’t been identified or suspected or they are not properly trained to remove it correctly.

Incidents of asbestos exposure are often unexpected and often people are unsure of what to do so asbestosawareness.com.au have provided a checklist on what can be done to secure the site and ensure no one is exposed.

It includes the following:

  • stop work immediately
  • leave the area and alert nearby workers
  • report the incident to a manager or Safety Manager
  • workers or the person controlling the workplace who believe a worker or workers have or may have been exposed to asbestos or ACM must be decontaminated as soon as possible;
  • clothing must be treated as asbestos waste and disposed of in the asbestos waste bags with any disposable PPE and wet wipes used for decontamination. Any item that can’t be decontaminated such as socks must also be disposed of as asbestos waste
  • workers suspected of being exposed to asbestos or ACM should undertake a baseline medical examination as soon as practical after the exposure.
  • inform workers and isolate the area
  • inform workers to clear the workplace until the hazard has been contained
  • establish a suitable exclusion zone (minimum of 10 metres) using barricades and warning signs to restrict access. The size of the zone should be based on the nature of the disturbance and advice from hygienist. Anything less than 10 metres will require asbestos air monitoring to be conducted at the exclusion zone boundary
  • consult a licensed asbestos assessor, occupational hygienist or competent person for advice should access within the exclusion zone be unavoidable (for example for essential maintenance), prior to entering the exclusion zone;
  • minimise disturbance of the material and workers must wear minimum PPE of P2 respirator (P3 preferred), disposable coveralls and boot covers should emergency access to the exclusion zone be required.
  • install warning signs
  • asbestos warning signs must be positioned at all points of entry to the contaminated area
  • if NO warning signs are onsite, use danger flags or normal warning signs as a temporary measure
  • if asbestos is assumed or confirmed, warning signs should be obtained for use when asbestos or ACM is being removed or used in the case of an unexpected find
  • evaluation of the incident by the Safety Manager will determine if the relevant Safety Authority should be notified such as in incidences of uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of asbestos; and
  • notify the regulator immediately or within a maximum of 24 hours after becoming aware of the incident if the Safety Manager determines it is required
  • engage a licensed asbestos assessor, occupational hygienist or competent person who will inspect, test and assess the area and the material and provide advice for remediation/decontamination
  • engage a licensed asbestos removalist to safely remove the asbestos and decontaminate the area in accordance with regulations
  • air monitoring should be conducted by a licensed asbestos assessor, occupational hygienist or competent person with the analysis conducted by a NATA accredited testing facility
  • no unprotected persons are permitted into the affected area (except asbestos removalists) prior to a Clearance Certificate being issued
  • after decontamination and air monitoring has been completed a licensed asbestos assessor, occupational hygienist or competent person can conduct a clearance inspection and issue a Clearance Certificate prior to reoccupation
  • after remediation of the site has been concluded, you must conduct a thorough investigation (as soon as is reasonably practical) to learn why the incident occurred to prevent reoccurrence
  • record the outcome of the investigation in the AMP to prevent reoccurrence. Develop corrective actions and communicate with workers.
  • if inadequate training was deemed responsible, ensure workers undergo appropriate training
  • review and amend the AMP as necessary based on the outcome of the investigation
  • if it was deemed necessary by the Health and Safety Manager to notify the regulator immediately or within 24 hours following the incident; notify the regulator that the site has been remediated, that the situation was investigated and remedied (such as updating and making the Asbestos Register accessible or increasing training of workers) and if health monitoring is being conducted
  • you may be required to provide the regulator with copies of all documents associated with the incident including results of any air monitoring and Clearance Certificate

 

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

What is WHS and what does it mean for your business?

As we fast approach the festive season, WorkSafe bodies across Australia are issuing warnings for workplaces to be more vigilant with workers safety especially in high-risk workplaces like construction where the demands to “finish the job” can overtake safety procedures.

Prior to 2012, workplace health and safety (WHS) laws were known across Australia as occupational health and safety (OH&S) laws, however in order to make them more consistent, state and territory governments unilaterally agreed in 2012 to develop model laws (WHS Act and Regulations), that could form the base of each state and territories health and safety laws

As it stands across Australia, Comcare administers the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (WHS Regulations). The current WHS Act and WHS Regulations states that Comcare provide the framework to ensure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination of risks arising from work, in accordance with the principle that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work as is reasonably practicable. Comcare also states the WHS Act and WHS Regulations promote continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety.

So what does the WHS Act mean and how is it implemented by businesses across Australia?

Under the current laws a “person who conducts a business or undertaking” (PCBU) must ensure the health and safety of workers engaged by the PCBU while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, so far as is reasonably practicable. SafeWork Australia says the PCBU is required to manage risks by the following:

  • eliminating risks to health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if elimination is not reasonably practicable, minimising the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Under the current legislation, the WHS Act imposes other duties on PCBUs and other persons in relation to workers and workplaces, and it provides for consultation, representation and participation to further the objects of the Act, which can include things like workplace arrangements for example working groups, health and safety representatives and health and safety committees.

The WHS Regulations make more detailed provision for topics covered by the WHS Act and includes providing more specific obligations and prohibitions for certain types of work. In some cases, a person can seek an exemption from requirements imposed by the WHS Regulations.

SafeWork Australia has published an online fact sheet, which outlines what is work for the purposes of the model WHS Act and says the following criteria may assist in determining if an activity is work for the purposes of the WHS Act:

  • the activity involves physical or mental effort by a person or the application of particular skills for the benefit of another person or for themselves (if self-employed), whether or not for profit or payment;
  • activities for which the person or other people will ordinarily be paid by someone is likely to be considered to be work;
  • activities that are part of an ongoing process or project may all be work if some of the activities are for remuneration;
  • an activity may be more likely to be work where control is exercised over the person carrying out the activity by another person; and
  • formal structured or complex arrangements may be more likely to be considered to be work than ad hoc or unorganised activities. The activity may be work even though one or more of the criteria are absent or minor.

They go on to say that work does not include activities of a purely domestic, recreational or social nature. Organisations who also do things other than social, domestic or recreational nature would be PCBUs but would only owe duties in relation to ‘work’ and only so far as is reasonably practicable.

So to make the legal jargon a little simpler to understand and to know if your business falls under the PCBU, WorkSafe Australia has listed a few examples of businesses or undertakings where this applies:

  • retailer
  • wholesale business
  • manufacturing business or importer that is on-selling the imported goods
  • owner-driver of their own transport or courier business
  • fast food franchisor and the operator of the fast food outlet (the franchisee)
  • self employed person operating their own business
  • government department or government agency
  • local council
  • school
  • Partnerships and unincorporated joint ventures. (Where the partnership or joint venture is unincorporated, each partner is a person conducting the business or undertaking of the partnership or joint venture).
  • builder (including principal contractors and sub-contractors)

Safework Australia plays a crucial role in all matters relating to WHS and is the lead developer of national policy that improves work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. It does not regulate or enforce WHS legislation, that’s where Comcare comes in.

However, as a business owner, contractor or sub-contractor, under the current WHS laws which are applicable across all states and territories, the WHS requirements set out in the acts must be met – or be prepared – you may face substantial penalties if you don’t.

 

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers a variety of courses for WHS and OHS officers and staff in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information on courses visit https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses

ASEA launches new asbestos awareness training course

ASEA launches new asbestos awareness training course aimed at the utilities sector

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is Australia’s leading peak body when it comes to all matters regarding asbestos management and safety. Established to provide a national focus on asbestos issues in both the workplace and in homes across Australia, their primary objective is to ensure asbestos issues receive attention and focus from government.

They have recently outlined a new course targeting workers in the utilities sector with a focus on the electricity and telecommunications industries.

The course titled Recognising and Responding to Asbestos Risk in the Utilities sector was launched in October 2017, and covers asbestos awareness of the various health and safety regulations in the Australian jurisdictions.

During the 2013–14 year, the ASEA began work on a project to improve asbestos training in the utilities sector, which came out of a taskforce review process following a number of incidences of inappropriate handling and the removal of asbestos-containing materials during the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is a Commonwealth funded project. In recent months, there has also been a serious incident of asbestos exposure after electricians found asbestos at the Sydney Opera House, which is undergoing a major renovation.

The aim of the steering committee was to produce a model of best-practice training for the utilities sector to strengthen asbestos management practices and reduce current risks to workers and members of the public from being exposed to asbestos fibres. The project also has a secondary benefit says the ASEA which will be the raising of awareness within the utilities sector about the risks associated by asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and the safe work methods of reducing that risk.

Research and work carried out by the stakeholder committee and technical advisory group, resulted in the ASEA releasing the Strengthening Asbestos-Related Training Materials in the Utilities Sector issues paper in June 2015, which outlined areas where improvements to asbestos-related training could be made in the utilities sector and would form the essential training requirements for those undertaking skill requirements for asbestos removal and identification.

Those concepts, with sufficient support from stakeholders has been incorporated into a training programme for use by organisations in the utilities sector, and as part of a separate project that was undertaken in 2015–16.

In the second half of 2014–15, the ASEA commenced a project to identify and promote a range of organisations and individual’s currently demonstrating best practice across a variety of areas in asbestos management.

The goal of the project says the ASEA was to highlight examples of best-practice asbestos management across Australia, and promote those examples to the wider community and their industry contemporaries while encouraging them to employ similar innovative ideas or practices that lead to safer handling and management of ACMs.

What the ASEA found was there is a significant amount of knowledge within the industry and the wider community about the dangers of exposure to asbestos that is translating into a strong commitment towards workplace health and safety for the whole of organisation from the top to the bottom.

The ASEA engaged consultants to develop a definition of best practice relating to asbestos management and identify organisations that would be considered to exemplify that best practice in various areas of asbestos management.

During 2016, the stakeholder group met regularly to develop and revise the units of competency with the final validation of the course ready for roll out in October 2017.

The ASEA says that persons who complete this course satisfactorily will be able to recognise situations and locations where there might be asbestos hazard and respond in a manner appropriate to the situation and their job role. However, the ASEA say this course does not include the competencies of working with or near asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

The course is outlined to provide knowledge and vocational education as follows:

  • Recognise possible asbestos hazards and the appropriate controls.
  • Describe the hazards of working with or near ACM’s.
  • Identify possible events or circumstances that may increase asbestos risk.
  • Describe the possible health impacts of exposure to asbestos fibres and identify different groups of individuals at risk.
  • Comply with relevant work health and safety regulations.

The course aims to provide the necessary skills required to recognise asbestos hazards and act accordingly to minimise risk. The key elements of the course are as follows:

  • Be able to describe the hazards when working with or near asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
  • Identify possible events or circumstances that may increase asbestos risk.
  • Describe the possible diseases resulting from exposure to asbestos/ACMs.
  • Locate possible corridors or paths where asbestos debris or fibres might travel and settle.
  • Apply the precautionary principle with regard to possible asbestos/ACM’s in the workplace.
  • Speak to appropriate persons if asbestos is suspected.
  • Apply asbestos hazard control using the hierarchy of control in workplace situations.
  • Work in a manner consistent with the asbestos regulatory framework.
  • Practice individual rights and responsibilities relevant to own job.
  • Identify documentation relevant to working with or near asbestos or ACM’s.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Why is Working at heights training is required?

Working at heights is the leading cause of death in workplaces in Australia. Working at heights is a high-risk job and one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in workplaces across Australia.

According to statistics from SafeWork Australia, between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2015:

  • 359 workers were killed following a fall from a height—11% of all workers killed over this period.
  • Half of these falls involved falling three metres or less.
  • The greatest number of fatalities involved falling from roofs (59), ladders (54), vehicles (27) and horses (33).
  • Workers aged 45 years and over made up 65% of those who died.
  • The construction industry accounted for 37% of falls-related fatalities.

So if you work from heights how do you minimise the risk of serious injury or death?

It’s all about training courses and equipment. When it comes to working from heights the only thing that will save your life is learning the correct ways to ensure your safe alongside using the correct equipment. This includes equipment that can be used by numerous workers on site. For example installing fall prevention systems is crucial at the design and planning stage and including roof safety mesh, guard railings, barriers, scaffolding or elevating work platforms. Work procedures should be developed on how to correctly install, use and maintain the system.

In every state and territory across Australia the relevant SafeWork organisations have legislation to ensure the correct procedures are in place to prevent a tragedy on site.

SafeWork NSW has recently introduced on the spot fines for:

  • employers not protecting their workers from the risk of falling from heights
  • workers who undertake work requiring a licence when they don’t hold that licence, or employers who allow their workers to do so. This includes high-risk work licences, asbestos class A, B and asbestos assessor licences, demolition licences and construction induction cards.

These new on the spot fines are issued by inspectors and if the risk to workers is imminent or serious, or if the workplace is considered to be a repeat offender. SafeWork NSW says these fines are aimed at reducing the number of worker fatalities and serious injuries, and protecting workers and the community from these high-risk activities.

Industry has also raised concerns that some businesses can gain a commercial advantage by cutting corners on worker safety. Fining individuals or employers who ignore their work health and safety obligations say SafeWork NSW will assist in creating a level playing field for those who take safety seriously, while also saving lives.

This year alone, SafeWork NSW has attended 234 incidents involving falls from heights, with over half of those incidents occurring in the construction industry. The snapshot for falls for those working in the construction sector are alarming and construction workers are at the greatest risk.

  • 28%of fatalities in Australia were caused by a fall from a height in 2015.
  • 30%of serious claims for falls from a height were caused by ladders
  • 48%of fatalities in the construction industry were from falls from a height of less than 4 metres.

There have been eight workers killed in NSW in 2017 so far, and many more receiving catastrophic injuries as a result of a fall from heights.

So what can you can do to keep you and your crew safe on site? SafeWork NSW has published the following guide, which they say will not only prevent accidents but save lives.

  • Ensure work involving the risk of a fall is carried out on a suitable working platform and wherever possible undertake the work from the ground or underneath the work area rather than from above.
  • Ensure adequate edge protection is in place such as scaffolding or guardrails.
  • Ensure a competent person checks all scaffolds and that a handover certificate is provided prior to use.
  • Ensure all open penetrations are securely covered or protected by physical barriers.
  • Provide your workers with a safe means of access and egress to all relevant areas of the worksite.
  • Only use fall prevention and fall arrest systems where other higher order controls are not reasonably practicable.
  • Establish and test emergency procedures in relation to the use of a fall arrest system.
  • Ladders should only be used for access and egress or for short-term work where other higher levels of control such as working platforms or scaffold are not reasonably practical.
  • When using ladders, ensure you have three points of contact at all times and never over reach. Consider using a platform ladder.
  • Provide your workers with the relevant equipment, information, training and instruction to work safely at heights.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers working from heights courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information on working from heights courses visit https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/working-at-heights/

Why you need to Asbestos Removal Training

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is the word used to describe a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibres, which belong to two groups:

Group A: Serpentine Group – comprised of only chrysotile (white asbestos)
Group B: Amphibole Group – comprised of anthophyllite, amosite (brown asbestos or grey asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite, and actinolite.

Long viewed as one of the most versatile and inexpensive minerals because of its flexibility, strength, insulation from heat and electricity, chemical inertness and affordability, asbestos was often the first and only choice.

This versatility made asbestos an attractive product for many industries and according to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Australia was one of the highest users of the product in the world (per capita) up until the mid-1980s. Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products. This widespread use of asbestos in building materials and homes has left a deadly legacy of asbestos material.

Asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) are categorised as friable and non-friable. Non-friable asbestos, where it is mixed with other materials like cement, is the type most commonly found in our built environment. Friable asbestos is more likely to become airborne. Both friable and non-friable asbestos pose a significant health risk to all workers and others if the materials are not properly maintained or removed carefully.

In the built environment, potential health risks are posed where there is:

  • the presence of ambient levels of asbestos
  • weathering of ACMs
  • the presence of damaged ACMs
  • building and/or maintenance work involving ACMs and
  • demolition and/or removal of ACMs.

The risk of exposure from the built environment differs from project to project and site to site, but asbestos has the potential to impact the entire Australian community so when removing asbestos it’s critical that the correct training has been undertaken.

Specific training requirements for asbestos work, in addition to the general training requirements, are required as part of a primary duty of care which means the company or business must provide information, training and instruction on how to remove and work around asbestos.

Employers or businesses and others who carry out removal work, or may come into contact with asbestos, must complete asbestos awareness training.

If loose fill asbestos insulation or naturally occurring asbestos is found at a workplace, you must provide training on how to identify and manage the associated risks and hazards.

 

Asbestos removal training for workers

Workers must complete a specified VET course before carrying out asbestos work and if you’re a worker who supervises asbestos removal, there is additional training required.

If you are already a licensed asbestos removalist, it is occupational health and safety law to provide information and training to asbestos removal workers to make ensure work is carried out in accordance with the asbestos removal control plan.

 The licences are broken down into categories and include a Class A asbestos removal licence, which allows a licence holder to remove friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos and asbestos contaminated dust.

A Class B asbestos removal licence allows a licence holder to remove non-friable asbestos and ACD associated with the removal of non-friable asbestos.

Training records must be kept while the workers are carrying out the asbestos removal work and for a further five years after the worker finished. It is a legal requirement that training records be readily accessible at the asbestos removal area.

Under the Work Health Safety (WHS) Regulations set out in the training and competency requirements for asbestos assessors, asbestos removal workers and supervisors and under the Regulations, two licences have been established.

These are Class A and Class B.

  • Businesses with a Class A licence are permitted to remove all types of asbestos, including both friable and non-friable asbestos.
  • Businesses with a Class B licence can only remove non-friable asbestos.

The WHS Regulations also create a new license category for asbestos assessors who have the role of carrying out air monitoring and clearance inspections following the removal of friable asbestos.

In addition to this requirement, Safe Work Australia has developed two model Codes of Practice to provide practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking who have duties under the WHS Act  and WHS Regulations. These model Codes of Practice are: How to Safely Remove Asbestos and How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace.

It is a mandatory requirement of Safe Work Australia and its affiliated state and territory organisations to have attended and completed a registered training course in the removal of asbestos.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Manual Handling – what is it and what are the risks?

What is manual handling?

Manual handling is the transporting or supporting of a load including lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving objects by hand or by bodily force. It applies to any activity that requires an individual or person to lift, hold or restrain, move or support a load.

 

What are the risks of manual handling?

Injury from manual handling has a major impact on all workplaces, and costs the economy millions of dollars every year. Workers involved in the moving and handling of goods are at risk and injuries and suffering can be linked to any work involving handling of loads. There are risks in handling even light loads if a repetitive task is being carried out in poor conditions. Poor ergonomics and workplace layout are a factor in many hazardous manual handling tasks.

Risks can be found in all work sectors, but healthcare, agriculture and construction are recognised as high-risk industries due to the number and nature of the manual handling activities. So if you require any person to lift, lower, push or pull or restrain any object consider getting workplace training and an implementing a structured policy around these risks.

 

How to assess manual handling risks

A typical way to assess manual handling activities is to look at four specific areas including what is the task? How will I be able to lift safely? What is the load weight and what is the environment? These assessments need to be done before any manual handling.

As with any assessment, the workplace should be involved in the process and be able to offer relevant guidance in their duty of care especially for high-risk industries and include the following key factors:

  • the task: any activity involve twisting, stooping, bending, excessive travel, pushing, pulling or precise positioning of the load, sudden movement, inadequate rest or recovery periods, team handling or seated work?
  • the individual:does the individual require unusual strength or height for the activity, are they pregnant, disabled or suffering from a health problem. Is specialist knowledge or training required?
  • the load:is the load heavy, unwieldy, difficult to grasp, sharp, hot, cold, difficult to grip, are the contents likely to move or shift?
  • the environment: are there space constraints, uneven, slippery or unstable floors, variations in floor levels, extremely hot, cold or humid conditions, poor lighting, poor ventilation, gusty winds, clothing or clothing that restricts movement?

Topics covered in manual handling training

  • How to use appropriate posture and handling techniques to reduce muscle load on exertion
  • Managing work tasks involving vibration in accordance with workplace policies and duty of care procedures
  • Using appropriate manual handling techniques and equipment to meet customer needs within own scope of responsibility
  • How to package loads appropriately for easy handling and lifting
  • How to follow lifting limitations within relevant guidelines
  • How to use safe work practices in handling loads
  • Why wearing appropriate personal protective equipment clothing is important
  • Identifying work health and safety (WHS) hazards, how to assess risk and report to a supervisor or manager
  • How to effectively contribute to workplace design and task analysis to ensure appropriate work areas are developed in accordance with WHS laws
  • Following workplace policies and procedures in relation to the scheduling of tasks
  • How to carry out equipment and environmental maintenance in accordance with a workplace preventative maintenance schedule
  • Understanding the importance of following workplace procedures for reporting symptoms and injuries to self and or others
  • Understanding workplace procedures for any return to work program

Manual handling is one of the leading causes of injury and death in the workplace and in each state across Australia training is the key to minimising the risks associated with incorrect lifting procedures. Each state in Australia has laws surrounding manual handling. Here is a snapshot of what’s required in NSW and Victoria (each state has its own laws and regulations – check out what’s required in your state or territory online).

Safework NSW – Work Health and Safety Regulation NSW says:

A manual task becomes hazardous when one or more of the following risk factors are present:

  • repetitive or sustained force
  • high or sudden force
  • repetitive movement
  • sustained or awkward posture
  • vibration

Over the past four years more than 145,000 workers have been injured in NSW workplaces as a result of manual tasks. Seven died and more than 1300 were permanently disabled.

Safework Victoria

The technique must be specific, designed for the work and the workplace where it will be used. When training an employee in a specific manual handling technique, make sure they:

  • understand the reasons for doing the work in a particular way
  • can recognise the risks and decide the best way to do the work
  • can do the work properly and practise the technique before being required to use it
  • are properly supervised when the work is being carried out.

You should assess the techniques that your employees are using, and provide refresher training as required. This is particularly important for work that is not done very often.

Training in specific lifting techniques is often used to address the danger of lifting heavy objects. But repetitive lifting may pose a risk, irrespective of which technique is used. This is why training alone is not an effective risk control. In order to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries a solid risk management plan needs to be put in place.

Refer to Safework’s Code of Practice. Training in specific lifting techniques is often used to address the danger of lifting heavy objects. But repetitive lifting may pose a risk, irrespective of which technique is used. This is why training alone is not an effective risk control.

 

For more information on how AlertForce can help you with your manual handling training call 1800 900 222 during business hours or visit our Manual Handling Training courses which includes courses in aged care.

 

Why it’s important to do white card training face-to-face?

White Card training is a mandatory requirement for anyone involved in the construction industry. It is a hazardous and high-risk industry where everyday new risks are presented as the project moves from inception to completion.

It’s also an industry built on subcontracting. Subbies undertake work on a number of projects managed by a number of companies and developers. Subbies come from a variety of trades including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, cementing, forklift and crane operating to name a few.

Therefore it is imperative for anyone who works in the construction sector to ensure they have the correct training, which is a requirement under Australian OHS law.

But white card training needs to be done in person with a registered training organisation and not online. Many training companies offer online courses but there are a numbers of reasons why you might find yourself off site after completion of an online course rather than onsite.

  • Online white card training is not recognised by the workplace health and safety regulatory bodies. Authorities like ASQA are not supportive of white card training that’s been done online.
  • Online white card training in NSW is banned.
  • Worksafe inspectors recognise colleges and training groups where the training has been done online.
  • A trainer must verify your photo ID on the day of training, which can’t be done online. This is a requirement by SafeWork Australia.
  • While full support might be promised for online training nothing comes close to one on one training with an industry expert who can answer any question and give real-life in real-time scenarios of what can go wrong once your onsite and ready to start work.
  • Training can be done onsite as well.
  • No two sites are the same in construction. What might be safe on one site will not be safe on another especially in the civil construction sector.
  • Face to face training provides up to date occupational health and safety information that covers civil and commercial construction alongside residential construction and explains the differences between the two.
  • Face to face training course have been developed by specialist teachers in conjunction with employers, industry representatives and unions to ensure that all aspects of health and safety are covered by the course. In other words, you know what is being taught is industry standard for working on sites across Australia.
  • A face-to-face trainer can provide language, literacy and numeracy (LL&N) support for anyone that needs it. This provides competency and support while training is being undertaken.
  • Online training does not give you the skills to be inclusive while learning, which includes listening to others, treating others with respect and understanding racist, sexist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes.

Here’s what each state and territory says about training:

Worksafe ACT
General Construction Induction Training is a nationally accredited competency unit known as “Work safely in the construction industry.”

The competency unit is a formal face-to-face training program that provides workers in the construction industry with an awareness and understanding of:

  • Their rights and responsibilities under Work Health and Safety law;
  • Common hazards and risks in the construction industry;
  • Basic risk management principles; and
  • The standard of behaviour expected of workers on construction sites.

 

NT Worksafe
Construction workers in the Northern Territory are required to undertake general construction induction training (GCIT) delivered by an approved registered training organisation (RTO). Workers, who complete GCIT in the Northern Territory, will be issued a ‘NT white card’ as proof of their training.

 

SafeWork NSW
You must first complete general construction induction training with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). You will need to provide the trainer with 100 points of ID and the course fee is set independently by the RTO.

 

Workplace Health and Safety QLD
The General Construction Induction card provides new and existing workers with the basic understanding and knowledge needed to start or continue work within the building and construction industry. In QLD this card was formerly known as a blue card.

 

Safework SA
Before anyone can work on an Australian construction site, they must have attained White Card accreditation.
Issued by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), White Card holders have successfully completed a general induction-training course that provides basic knowledge of construction workwork health and safety (WHS) laws, common site hazards and how to control the associated risks.

WHS Inspectors from SafeWork SA may ask construction workers to provide their White Card for inspection, and ask the PCBU to show their induction training or other worker competency records.

 

Workplace Standards Tasmania
You can only get a construction induction card by:

  • completing construction induction training, AND
  • lodging an application at Service Tasmania (see ‘Applying for your card’ below)

A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must ensure general construction induction training is provided to any worker engaged by the person carrying out the construction work.
Only the general induction training (classroom based) component is recognised for white, blue, red and construction induction cards.

 

Worksafe Victoria 

To obtain a construction induction card, you must attend a construction induction-training course with a registered training organisation (RTO). You must provide the RTO with photo ID.
 

Worksafe WA
Training must be completed with a registered with RTO.

 

Alertforce is a recognised RTO and offers white card training in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories.

 

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